Analysis of Quality Control in the Informal Seed Sector: Case of Smallholder Bean Farmers in Bondo Sub-County, Kenya

Wilfred Odhiambo, Margaret Ngigi, Job Lagat, Hans Peter Binswanger, Jean Claude Rubyogo


Common bean is the most widely grown and consumed grain legume in Kenya. However, its contribution to nutrition and income has not been fully felt by smallholder farmers in western Kenya due to low yields. Good quality seed, if used with complementary practices can increase bean productivity. This study was conducted in Bondo sub-County to determine the methods used by farmers in seed quality control; factors affecting the choice preferences for informal bean seed sources; and the structure and contribution of social networks in seed quality control. Primary data were collected from 100 respondents through scheduled interviews using structured questionnaires. Excel, SPSS, STATA and UCINET computer packages were used to run data. A multinomial logit model was used to analyse the effects of socio-economic characteristics on the choice of seed sources. Descriptive statistics were used to illustrate the seed quality control methods. The nature of social networks was determined using measures of centrality and brokerage positions and visualized through network graphs. The results showed that farmers use pre-planting, post-planting, harvest and post harvest methods in controlling seed quality; and are influenced by socio-economic characteristics while choosing seed sources in the informal sector. It was determined that social networks exist, and farmers rely mainly on fellow farmers to access bean seed. Therefore, the study suggests policy interventions to design integrated bean seed system with aspects of formal and informal sector to enhance supply of quality seed to smallholder farmers. Preference for certain bean varieties should be used for strategic varietal development. Finally, youth groups should be used as springboards for seed related interventions.

Keywords: Common bean, seed, quality control, smallholder farmers, social networks, western Kenya

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