Socioeconomic Factors Influencing Farm Forestry Investment Decisions in Kenya: The Case of Uasin Gishu and Vihiga Counties

Joshua K. Cheboiwo, Jonah Kipsat, David Langat, Florence Cherono


In Kenya, traditional farm landscapes are an overlay agricultural crops livestock and various farm forest formations. Tree growing in agricultural landscapes in the country has a long history. However the intensity has developed over the last 100 years across the country at varying pace and configurations depending on various factors largely driven by demand and supply conditions. Therefore the study was premised on the fact that household land is allocated to tree growing based on the household subsistence needs and extra to satisfy market demands. The study to evaluate the socioeconomic factors that influenced adoption farm forestry by households in two counties in high potential agricultural areas of western Kenya was undertaken in 2015. The two counties were selected for the study differed in various attributes such as settlement history, agricultural land use, farm forestry development and demographic characteristics. Uasin Gishu represents the recently settled former European settler farms and Vihiga represents the former African Reserves settled hundreds of years ago. The study used integrated land use decision making concept to underpin the household production function.  The survey involved 260 households that were systematically sampled with questionnaires being administered randomly to households in locations within selected sub counties. The main data extracted from the questionnaire were household land sizes, age of household head, educational levels of household head, cultural factors, farm forest incomes, distance to forest product markets, farm employees, settlement years, household sizes and crop incomes.  Data was analysed by use of OLS regression models to generate key farm forestry decision making variables.  The results show that the most stable and significant explanatory variables were land size, farm forestry incomes and off-farm incomes. This shows that they were the most important variables in farm forestry land use decisions in western Kenya.  The study also revealed that the two counties were significantly different in their farm forestry activities with Vihiga being more intensive as compared to Uasin Gishu.  Farm forestry incomes proved to be an importance driving force in scaling up tree growing on individual farms hence indicating the importance of economic objectives on household land use decision making. Farm forest income was stronger in areas where markets and marketing infrastructure were better developed. The study provides some factors that policy makers need to consider in order to positively influence farm forest development in Kenya and other developing countries.

Keywords: Farm forestry, Land use, farm incomes, household decision making

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