Justus M. Kavoi, Geoffery M. Kamau, John G. Mwangi


Sustainable food security and household income remains a major challenge among smallholder farmers in Kenya’s semi-arid counties of Kitui, Machakos and Makueni. In this region, women do most farming through self-help groups which may be women or men led. Factors related to gender and group dynamics in subsistence farming are less understood and poorly documented. This study therefore sought to analyse and document the information on such factors. Using systematic random sampling procedure, data were collected from 165farmersfrom Kitui, Machakos and Makueni Counties. Study findings showed that99% of both male and female respondents belonged to farmer self-help groups and that group management was either female dominated (62%) male dominant (20%) or equal representation (18%). In male dominated committees, conflict of interests leads to poor group, while there was less conflict in women led groups. Results also showed that 37% of the respondents depended on family labour to do farmingand that female farmers faced gender-specific constraints in farming which hindered them from improving farm productivity. The researchers concluded that networking enabled female farmers to pool financial resources to address household needs. Existing collective action among female farmers could be enhanced stakeholders ingroup management and leadership skills. Finally, effective strategies should be developed to address gender-specific constraints facing female farmers


Collective action, conflict of interests, gender-specific constraints, group leadership, household income, sustainable food security


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