Food Security in Kenya: The Impact of Building Rural Farmers' Capacity through Agricultural Education in Secondary School

Article excerpt

Abstract

Many developing countries today face major challenges with regard to food security due to changes in rural land use, coupled with population pressure. One of the ways Kenya has responded to this is by teaching agriculture at various levels of education especially secondary school level. Little has been done, however, to establish whether or not there is any significant difference in agricultural productivity between farmers who graduate with secondary school agriculture knowledge and those without as a way of building farm capability, hence the study. The study adopted the proportionate sampling technique, where a sub-sample of farmers from a target population of those farmers with secondary school agriculture knowledge and those without this knowledge and a total of 200 farmers where interviewed. Results showed that farmers with secondary school agriculture knowledge performed significantly better than those without the secondary school agriculture knowledge and thus have higher levels of food security indicators in crop productivity, management and level of household food security. The study shows how secondary school agriculture knowledge not only broadens farmers' capacity, but also makes them more effective, self reliant, resourceful and capable of solving farming problems and as a result, significantly improves their crop productivity and hence guarantee food security for the family. The challenge for the teaching profession is finding out the best teaching methods as approaches both in and out of class.

Keywords: food security, Kenya, impact, building rural farmers, capacity, agricultural education, secondary school

INTRODUCTION

Despite enormous efforts to industrialize, Kenya still remains an agricultural nation with the majority of its people (90%) living in the rural areas and depending on agriculture, either directly or indirectly for their income. It has also been noted that small-scale farmers who constitute majority of the rural crop producers have great potential in increasing agricultural production the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Kenya included. This paper focuses on the contribution of secondary school agricultural knowledge to rural agricultural productivity. The rapidly growing population and steady expansion of the education system has resulted in the unemployment of those who complete school and cannot find access to further education. Students who cannot get into high paying jobs can engage themselves in agriculture, hence, the need for initiating agriculture in secondary schools in Kenya (Ominde, 1964). One of the general objectives of teaching agriculture in the 8-4-4 secondary school curriculum (KIE, 1992), is to ensure that schools take an active part in rural development by integrating agricultural activities in the curriculum. This has been done through provision of technical knowledge, reinforcing interest in and awareness of opportunities existing in agriculture among the secondary school graduates (RoK, 1976). However, little has been done to establish whether or not there is any significant difference in agricultural productivity between farmers who graduate with secondary school agriculture knowledge and those without. The main question is: does agriculture knowledge at secondary school level make any difference in agricultural productivity?

The purpose of this paper is to examine and determine the contribution of secondary school agricultural knowledge to rural agricultural productivity. Specifically, the paper seeks to determine the difference in crop productivity per unit area, determine and compare level of crop management, and the role of secondary school agriculture knowledge on the level of rural household food security.

Agriculture and National Development

In recent years, agriculture production has not kept pace with population growth rate and the country has become a net importer of its two major staple foods, maize and wheat (Kliest, 1985). …