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The Relationship between Commercial Agriculture and Food Availability to Kenyan Farm Families: A Case Study

By Tabitha Kiriti and Clement A. Tisdell


This article examines the effects of agricultural commercialization and other factors on per capita food availability by means of a case study in the Nyeri district in Kenya. It was found that cash cropping has a negative influence on per capita food availability in the male-headed households. This negative influence is not apparent in the female-headed households and in fact, per capita food availability rises with increased agricultural commercialization. Households of married women seem to suffer more in terms of reduced food availability than households headed by females. Husbands have control over cash income and therefore influence food purchases. They are less likely than females to use the cash for food purchases and tend to spend the cash on themselves, thus reducing food availability to family members. This suggests that in some patriarchal societies, caution should be displayed in encouraging cash cropping especially in male-headed households. Cash cropping under such circumstances is unwise from both a food availability and food security point of view because it can result in reduced crop diversification hence increasing the risks of income food deficits for families. Other factors found to have an influence on per capita food availability are employment of the women outside households, educational level of the women and the quality of cropping, family size, female-headed households, male-headed households, and per capita food availability, Agricultural and Food Policy,

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