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Title: A farm gate-to-consumer value chain analysis of Kenya's maize marketing system
Other Titles: Working Paper 44
Authors: Kirimi, Lilian
Sitko, Nicholas
T.S., Jayne
Karin, Francis
Muyanga, Milu
Sheahan, Megan
Flock, James
Bor, Gilbert
Keywords: A farm gate-to-consumer -- Maize marketing system
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Tegemeo Institute
Abstract: Background: Maize is the most important staple food in Kenyans’ diets, providing roughly a third of the caloric intake for Kenya’s population. Maize is also the central crop in Kenyan agriculture, being grown by 98% of Kenya’s 3.5 million smallholder farmers. Maize marketing and trade policy in Kenya has been dominated by two major challenges. The first challenge concerns the classic food price dilemma: how to keep farm prices high enough to provide production incentives for farmers while at the same time keeping them low enough to ensure poor consumers’ access to food. The second major challenge has been how to effectively deal with food price instability, which is frequently identified as a major impediment to smallholder productivity growth and food security. In attempting to cope with these interrelated challenges, policymakers have grappled with issues of the appropriate role of the state in marketing and pricing, and the extent to which variable import tariffs and trade controls can promote the achievement of national policy objectives. A third and as yet inadequately appreciated maize policy challenge, one that is facing the agricultural sector more generally, is the growing problem of access to land and the shrinking size of smallholder farms. Partly as a result of declining landholding sizes in Kenya, most rural farm households have become net buyers of maize. The potential for transforming smallholder farmers from maize buyers into surplus producers is becoming increasingly difficult as population growth and land pressures continue unabated. Over half of the smallholder farms in Kenya are less than 1.5 hectares. In this context, a major, yet underappreciated, agricultural policy issue is how to achieve broad-based smallholder-led agricultural growth under conditions of increasingly acute land pressures. Identifying the appropriate role and potential of maize intensification in densely populated rural areas is needed to address this important policy question.
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