Common interest youth groups and their contribution to food security

Full title: Common interest youth groups and their contribution to food security among small holder farm households In Western Kenya

By Libaisi, J.K, Marinda, P.A. and Wakhungu, J.W.

The realization of development and smallholders’ livelihood goals requires strategies to improve agricultural production through improved technologies. Through the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPP) these technologies have been disseminated to farmers through enterprise based common interest groups (CIGs).

The purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of youth based CIGs to food security among the smallholder farm households in Western Kenya. A cross sectional descriptive survey was carried out and data collected from a sample of one hundred youth based CIG members, twenty youth who are not CIG members and twenty key informants. Data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedules and analysed using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS).

The study revealed that promotional posters play a role in formation and sustaining CIGs production objectives. CIGs are enterprise based farmer groups formed after promotion of agricultural opportunities by extension service providers using posters. Farmers who choose a similar enterprise are said to have a common interest. Initial enrolment to CIGs was high having over 30 members but membership dropped over time. Majority of the CIGs on average had a membership of 10-30 members. Members of CIGs (99%) have increased access to extension services than non CIG members and 88% of CIGS had  future plan of activities. Youth in CIGs reported increase in agricultural production as compared to those not in CIGs. More than three quarters (89%) of CIG members realized increased production trend since joining the CIGs while production of 11% of the sampled members remained constant. The households with CIG membership were found to be more food secure than those without CIG membership. The youth were found to be greatly involved in the later stages of the value chains (transformation of products and marketing).

The study recommends that detailed promotional posters with updated information on the enterprises should be used to encourage youth involvement in membership to CIGs. To maintain membership, CIGs should include socio economic activities related to food security e.g. bulk purchase of essential food stuff and farm inputs for distribution to members at a lower cost. Small holder farmers should be encouraged to join CIGs, since they could access extension services, micro-credit services and markets for their produce with ease. This in turn contributes to food security through increased production and income. To attract youth involvement in agriculture, the service providers need to flag off opportunities in the later stages (post production) of the value chains such as value transformation, transportation and marketing.

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