Rural poverty and agriculture

Traditionally, agriculture has been seen as the best option to helprural households out of poverty. But the sector faces a number of challenges that diminish its influence in lifting households out of poverty.

First, land subdivisions have progressively left rural households with less land for agriculture compared to previous decades. In fact, extremely poor households have land that is just enough for settlement plus minimal agriculture.

Land markets in rural areas have also not been developed, possibly due to the insecurity of land tenure. As such, leasing of land for agriculture has not been meaningful as smallholder farmers only access season to season leases.

Additionally, agriculture now suffers from climatic shocks, disease and pest prevalence, declining soil quality, volatile agricultural markets, and low investment by both the public and private sector actors in agriculture. These shocks expose households that cultivate more land to production and market shocks. For households that rely heavily on agriculture, successive shocks could increase vulnerability to poverty.

 

Article By Timothy Njagi Njeru, Egerton University