Uptake of Regenerative Agriculture Technologies, Productivity of Selected Cereals And Pulses and Food Security in the Drylands of Embu County, Kenya
Otara, Elvin Nyaboe
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At the global level, land degradation is on the increase thus threatening millions of livelihoods particularly in the drier ecosystems. More specifically, land degradation is a major concern in Kenya and more particularly in the drylands of Embu County. Soil fertility has been steadily declining, resulting in low agricultural output and endangering smallholder farmers who rely mostly on subsistence agriculture for a living. Selecting appropriate Regenerative Agriculture (RA) technologies in accordance with well-established policies can help construct more resilient ecosystems, increase productivity and family food security while nourishing soils and lessening the effects of climate change. Although RA has been marketed in Embu drylands, the extent of uptake has not been assessed. The potential effects of RA technologies on cereal (sorghum) and pulse (green grams) productivity and family food security have received little attention. The study aimed to characterize RA technologies and identify factors impacting adoption. The study also assessed the effects of RA technologies on the productivity of selected cereals and pulses as well as household food security in Embu County's drylands. A multistage stratified sampling procedure was used to select 400 farming households at random. Data were obtained via Open Data Kit using cross-sectional survey and a semi-structured questionnaire. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to characterize RA technologies. RA technology adoption factors were evaluated using Multivariate Probit Model (MVP). The effect of RA technologies on the productivity of selected cereal and pulse was examined using a stochastic log-linearized Cobb-Douglas Production Function. Household Food Consumption Score (HFCS) was employed to gauge household food security. According to the PCA results, the most often employed RA technologies by the respondents were cereal-legume intercrop, pasture cropping, crop rotations, mulching, cover crops, use of compost manure, and minimum tillage. The percentage of respondents employed the following RA methods, according to descriptive data, were: cereal-legume intercrop (71.3%), pasture cropping (72.0%), crop rotations (96.0%), mulching (76.3%), cover crops (14.5%), application of compost manure (24.0%), and minimal tillage (31.5%). Further, from descriptive statistics, the results showed that all adopted technologies had poor uptake. The respondents’ biggest struggles with RA were a lack of education and bad weather conditions. In light of the results of the Multivariate Probit Model, socioeconomic and institutional factors, significantly impact on the uptake of various RA technologies. In addition, Cobb-Douglas Production Function revealed that cereal-legume intercropping, mulching, and the use of compost manure positively influenced green gram and sorghum productivity, minimum tillage and cover cropping positively influenced sorghum productivity, and crop rotations positively influenced green gram productivity. Furthermore, the HFCS showed that most of the households in the research region were food insecure, with those who used minimum tillage having the highest (61.1%) poor HFCS and those who practiced cover cropping having the highest acceptable score of 8.6%. The study findings suggest encouraging small-scale farmers to adopt the disseminated technologies by providing training and sensitization on the benefits of these technologies in order to boost agricultural productivity and improve food security in the drylands of Embu County, Kenya, while also regenerating ecosystems in a sustainable manner.