Insight of the Adoption Trends and Challenges Faced by Jatropha Farmers in Yatta District, Kenya

Carol Munini Munyao, Mary Nduluh Munyao


From 2004 to 2009, there was entry of Jatropha curcas promotion agencies mainly Non-Governmental Organizations and private investors in the country aimed at increasing the adoption of the plant especially in the arid and semi-arid areas. By 2009, the average Jatropha adoption was low at 15.4% among the smallholder farmers in Yatta District in spite of the perceived role the plant could play in biodiesel production, provision of rural employment and rehabilitation of degraded land compared to traditional crops that included maize at 86.4%, beans at 31.2% and pigeon peas at 47.5%. The goal of this study is to assess the adoption trends of Jatropha in Yatta District, analyze promotion strategies used by agencies to promote Jatropha, assess if knowledge on Jatropha benefits influenced its adoption and finally establish challenges experienced by Jatropha farmers in Yatta District.  The study applied both quantitative and qualitative research methods.  Questionnaire surveys, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and observations were employed to identify challenges experienced by Jatropha farmers. Questionnaires were administered to 240 respondents selected through multi-stage sampling technique. Results showed that there was little Jatropha cultivation before the boom, it went up significantly during promotion period but dropped significantly soon after the exit of the promotion agencies.  Further, it was found that promotion strategies used were ineffective, knowledge on Jatropha benefits did not significantly influence its adoption and there were major challenges experienced by Jatropha farmers in the study area that contributed to the termination of its cultivation. It was concluded that Jatropha farmers in Yatta District technical, institutional, socio-economic and cultural challenges. It is therefore recommended that Jatropha production in Yatta District is not a rational option at the moment due to the many challenges experienced by farmers such as lack of market, non-improved germplasm, and little technology on Jatropha management among others discussed in the paper. Also before promoting the plant in the region, it is necessary to carry out further research on pests and disease control and improved Jatropha seeds in order to improve on yields and have a biofuel policy in place to ensure streamlined Jatropha value chain and development of biofuels industry as a whole.

Keywords: Challenges; ASALs; Biofuels; Jatropha; Yatta District.

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

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