The Economic Challenges Facing Small Scale Sugarcane Farmers in Malava Sub-County, Kakamega County, Kenya
This study examined the challenges and their effects on sugarcane farming in the Malava sub-county, Kakamega County. The study objectives were to: assess cane transportation problems and establish challenges related to the marketing of sugarcane farmers in the Malava Sub-county. It was undertaken in Malava Sub-county, where sugarcane is the economic backbone and the region’s key cash crop owing to the favourable geographical conditions in Western Kenya. Despite Malava Sub-county’s vast experience in sugarcane farming, production has gone down. Furthermore, such a study is yet to be done in Malava. The study purposed to find out the reasons for inefficiency and insufficiency in sugar production. A descriptive research design was used. Purposive and systematic random sampling techniques were used to select sugarcane farmers from the seven wards; Manda/Shivanga, Butali/Chegulo, Chemuche, East Kabras, West Kabras, and South Kabras, Shirugu/Mugai and the sugar factory stakeholders in the two sugar factories; Butali and Kabras in Malava Sub-county. Malava Sub-county has an estimated population of 65,323 sugarcane farmers. From this population, a sample of 384 was used, based on Mugenda and Mugenda’s formula (2003): n=z2pq/d2, for a target population which is greater than 10,000. Primary data was collected by the use of questionnaires, interview schedules, Focus Group Discussions, and observation guides. Secondary data was collected through a literature search in online journals, theses and publications related to the study topic. Analysis was done using descriptive statistics aided by Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The presentation of data was done using tables and graphs. A pilot study in Lwandeti and Chevaywa wards in Lugari Subcounty was conducted to test the validity and reliability of the data collection instruments, and Cronbach’s alpha of 0.8 was good evidence of reliability. Research findings showed that 70% (269) of the respondents accepted that the transportation charges were high compared to other costs of production, 60% (230) of the cane farmers sampled said that there was a ready market for mature sugarcane, while 40% (154) responded negatively and 100% of the farmers indicated that they never witnessed the weighing of their cane. Finally, 79.95% (307) of the farmers accepted that the equipment for the operation of cane farming was mainly the locally available ones for instance, Jembes, Pangas, and ox ploughs; and 83% (319) of farmers failed to uproot old cane due to lack of money to hire the tractors and high technology equipment. Small-scale farmers in the Malava sub-county have low productivity due to these factors. This study recommends that sugar millers cover transportation costs, provide licenses on schedule, introduce mobile weighbridges to allow farmers to observe the weighing of their cane, and the government provide loans for small-scale farmers to acquire village tractors
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