Technology Adoption, Production and Market Participation among Smallholder Indigenous Chicken Farmers in Tigania West Sub-County, Meru County
Majority of the Kenyan population resides in rural areas and are characterised by high levels of poverty due to low income and food insecurity. Poultry production and in particular indigenous chicken has been recognised as an avenue to improve livelihoods among rural households through provision of income. Besides, the enterprise contributes to socioeconomic and nutritional requirements of rural and peri-urban populations. Despite this potential, chicken production continues to encounter low and declining production, inadequate uptake of modern innovations and inefficient market structures that are unreliable in forecasting impending trade relations. This has been ascribed to limitation of measures to improve productivity through poultry friendly technologies and provision of necessary market information. Therefore, this study sought to examine adoption, production and market participation among smallholder indigenous poultry farmers in Meru County. The study applied a cross sectional survey design and Tigania West Sub County was selected since it is a leading producer of indigenous chicken in Kenya. Data were collected by administering structured questionnaires to 359 smallholder farmers, who were identified through multistage stratified and probability proportionate to size sampling techniques. Descriptive statistics used to analyse socioeconomic and institutional characteristics showed that majority of the respondents were aged, with moderate experience and had limited extension access. In addition, the results revealed that respondents had adequate access to market information and financial credits. The binary logit model was used to identify farm and farmer characteristics that affect adoption of technologies. Improved breeds, proper housing structures, improved feeds and disease control measures were used as technology adoption parameters. Results show that experience, household size, extension access, land tenure and income from indigenous poultry were significant and positively influenced technology adoption. Further, age of the respondents, farm size and level of education had negative and significant impact on adoption. The Cobb Douglas production function was used to determine farm and farmer characteristics that affect poultry production. Results revealed that indigenous chicken production was highly responsive to off-farm income, technology adoption and gender of the respondents. The input output relationship presented that amount of credit used, quantity of feeds and frequency of vaccination were significant and positively influenced poultry yield at constant returns to scale. The Heckman’s two-stage results show that the decision of smallholders to engage in poultry markets was highly influenced by the frequency of extension and household size, while education and expert contact significantly influenced the intensity of market participation. The study recommends that emphasis should be concentrated on policies that promote youth participation in indigenous poultry production and provision of extension and training among smallholders. Besides, there is a need to emphasize on improved land tenure and increased engagement of farmers in off-farm employment in order to increase the scope of their working capital.