ANTHONY GIKANDI MURIITHI1, ALEX MUNGAI1, ERIC BETT2
1Cotton Development Authority, Kenya
2University of Natural and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Inst. of Organic Farming, Austria
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) is grown in over 80 countries, providing a significant source of livelihoods to millions of people. In Kenya the crop is mostly grown as a cash crop in the Arid and Semi arid regions under rain fed conditions. Due to its drought tolerance, the crop provides an ideal food security strategy for smallholder farmers. After independence small-scale cotton farming was introduced by the government. It was a success story until the collapse of the sector in the early 1990's. In the late 1990's the government embarked on the promotion of cotton farming among smallholders mainly through provision of seeds and improved farming practices. In 2009 a survey was carried out to determine the current level of adoption of improved Cotton production practices in Eastern and Coastal regions of Kenya. Questionnaires were administered to 54 randomly selected farmers. A Tobit analysis was used to determine socio"=economic, and technology factors that influence adoption of improved cotton management by smallholder farmers. All households used compost farm yard manure, and in the wealthier households, inorganic fertilisers as part of their soil fertility management strategies. Based on the Tobit analysis, land area, ethnic group, years of farming, off"=farm income, contact with extension officers significantly and positively affected adoption for cotton farming. Farmers in coastal region reported lack of seed to be the major constraint to the adoption of cotton farming, while lack of knowledge of new varieties was the major constraint for farmers in the Eastern region. The results from this survey suggest that the strategy for improving the adoption of cotton farming will differ depending on infrastructure and the socio"=economic niches of farmers in a given area. This study proposes enhancing these strategies with Bt cotton farming and Farmers Participatory Training and Research (FPTR).
Keywords: Bt cotton, farmer field school, food security, information access, input access, Technology adoption