Farm Forestry Development in Kenya: A Comparative Analysis of Household Economic Land Use Decisions in UasinGishu and Vihiga Counties

Joshua K. Cheboiwo, David Langat, Festus Mutiso, Florence Cherono


Tree growing on farms in Kenya is an important land use that has evolved over the last 100 years into multi-billion subsistence and commercial oriented enterprises.  The smallholder farms in medium and high potential areas are facing serious shortage of quality farming land that has created severe competition among various competing land uses mostly agriculture and farm forestry. Therefore the economic competitiveness of farm forestry as a land use is assumed to be proportional to the size of household land allocated to its use. Understanding household decisions making in allocation of land to competing land uses has increasingly become an important subject to resource economists and policy makers. Therefore a study was undertaken in 2011/2012 to evaluate the socioeconomic decisions making in relations to farm forestry in two counties in high potential agricultural areas of western Kenya. The two counties were selected for the study differed settlement in history, agricultural land use, farm forestry development and demographic characteristics. Uasin Gishu represents the recently settled former European settler farms and Vihiga to represents the former African Reserves. The study was based on range of models such as spatial land use concepts, integrated land use decision making and land use efficiency criterion to underpin the household production function.  260 households were surveyed using systematic sampling methods with questionnaires being administered randomly to households in locations within selected divisions.  The main data extracted from the standard questionnaire were household structure, ratio of land used for cropping, grazing and farm forestry, product output, prices, market information, marketing procedures and distribution of trees by species.  Data was analysed by use of OLS regression models to generate key farm forestry decision making parameters.  The results show that household land size had strong influence on farm forestry decisions irrespective of household’s production strategy.  Farm forestry incomes proved to be an importance driving force in decisions to plant trees thus supporting the importance of economic objectives on household land use decisions. A farm forestry income was stronger in areas where markets and marketing infrastructure were better developed.  The density of planted trees increased with decreasing land size attested the strength of subsistence and commercial dimension of trees within an agricultural landscape. The study points out some policy lessons for development of farm forestry in developing countries like Kenya that include putting in place policies and regulations that attract, expand and sustain farm forestry product demand and infrastructure that improve marketing efficiency and thus better income to farmers from sale of trees.

Keywords: Farm forestry, Land use, Household decision making

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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