Issues Affecting the Agricultural Sector in Vihiga County
By Soko Directory Team / March 1, 2016
Agriculture is the main economic activity in Vihiga County. According to statistics, 98.7% of the land in Vihiga County with 40,000 hectares being under food crops and a total of 8,000 hectares being under cash crop. Crop production in Vihiga County is the mainstream income earner for both the County Government of Vihiga as well as the residents with about 64 percent of all the county’s income coming from the sector.
The main food crops are maize, beans, sorghum, millet, bananas, avocado, papaya, sweet potatoes, cassava as well as French beans with maize and beans being the leading food crops producing an estimate of 90,000 and 20,000 bags respectively. The cash crop include coffee and tea with tea being the most popular and the most lucrative cash crop in the county.
The agricultural sector in Vihiga County is faced with numerous challenges that are threatening to kill the sector. The coffee sector for instance, is slowly dying a natural death due to mismanagement as well as delayed payment of farmers who engage in the farming activity of the crop.
The challenges facing the agricultural sector in Vihiga County include the following:
- Continuous land subdivision resulting in the reduced economic viability of land for the purpose of agriculture in the county. The main reason behind the massive and continuous subdivision of land in Vihiga County is the increasing population in the county mounting pressure on the little land available. At the moment, the population density in the county is 1153 per square kilometer with the density expected to hit 1,843 per square kilometer by the year 2030.
- The proportion of parcels of land whose owners have title deeds in the whole county is 28.3 percent while the rest is still under the ownership of grandparents who are yet to distribute it out. Women ownership of title deed in the county is also very low as a result of cultural barriers. Many credit firms issue financial assistance to farmers who have credible documents for the parcels of land that they purport to own and without such documents, there is no access to financial assistance hence hurting the agricultural sector.
- There is massive environmental degradation resulting from farming practices that are not environmentally friendly including encroachment into the environmentally delicate areas by people such as river banks.
- There is also declining agricultural yields mainly as a result of reduced soil fertility that emanates from poor agricultural practices such as over cultivation as well as land fragmentation leading to reduced sizes of agriculture.
According to residents in Vihiga County, the County Government has to realize the importance of the agricultural sector to the economy of the County and act swiftly to help uplift the sector. This they say has to include among other things, making sure that the cash crop farming, especially coffee thrives through constant motivation of farmers.
Article by Juma Fred.
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