Wednesday, 18 November 2020 07:49

Does Tobacco Growing Guarantee Household Food Security?

Written by G. K. Sitati
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G. K. Sitati

University of Embu

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This paper examines the relationship between tobacco growing and food security in Malakisi region in Bumula Sub-county of Bungoma County, with a view of establishing its effect on household food security. Tobacco, being a non-food crop, does not contribute to physical food availability in the household. The crop is grown with the hope that it would fetch enough money to meet the farmers financial needs including purchasing food in the household.  The main aim of this study was to investigate the effect of tobacco production on household food security in the sub-county and its effect on nutrition. Malakisi is one of the two tobacco growing regions in Bungoma County, which has been food insecure raising questions as to whether tobacco growing is beneficial to the farmers. In this study, data was collected from 138 farmers who grew tobacco together with food crops and those who grew tobacco only in order to make a comparison on their household food security status. Data was collected using questionnaires, oral interviews, direct observation and focus group discussion (FGDs). From the study results, it was clear that about 95% of the tobacco farmers in the region were food insecure with majority of them living below the poverty line as a result of low returns from tobacco growing. The results also indicate that farmers grow tobacco because of the farm inputs that are given on credit basis by the tobacco companies which is later deducted from the farmers’ payment when the cured tobacco leaves are delivered to the contracting companies. The study recommends that tobacco farmers should form cooperatives that would push for better producer prices and this would improve their financial status and consequently their household food security.

Keywords: Cash crop growing, food production, household food security, tobacco production

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