Western Province in Kenya was chosen as the focus of the study because of one’s familiarity with the area. Food from farms in this region is readily available to the population. The community practices subsistence farming and cash crop farming. The main crops grown are maize and sugarcane. This province has four sugar processing plants that produce cane (Maxon 299).
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The Western Province is situated on the western section of Kenya and borders the eastern part of Uganda. It is among the smallest provinces in Kenya (about 8000 square kilometers) with a population of about 3 million people. Its headquarters is in Kakamega.
The province experiences specific tropical (hot, wet) climate characteristics of equatorial rainforests. Kakamega Forest is an outstanding example of rainforests found in the region. The African race is prominent in the Western Province with Luhya dominating the area (Mwakikagile 89).
The Luhya is a Bantu-speaking community that is the second-biggest tribal group in the country. However, a few Asians also live in the province. The community relies mainly on agriculture for getting income. Literacy level in the area is fairly high. In fact, Western Province hosts several public and private universities (90). The province has urban settings around its five main towns and rural settings away from the towns.
Maize is the region’s commonly cultivated food crop, and sugarcane is the main cash crop (Maxon 300). “Ugali” is the staple food in this region being the mixture of maize flour and water forming a solid mound. Therefore, the community consumes most of the maize harvest locally and does not depend on food from distant regions.
However, it sells a substantial quantity of the maize yield for income generating purposes. The community also grows other foods like beans and green grams, but imports wheat and rice from other parts of the country. People of Western Province also practice dairy farming on a small scale.
The community faces several obstacles in obtaining healthy food. Repetitive farming without fertilizers impoverishes the soils and leads to low yields. Extreme reliance on maize as a cash crop neglects other valuable products such as vegetables, fruits, and protein-rich cereals that are essential for a healthy balanced diet. Farmers do not have knowledge on proper farming procedures and use poor quality seeds (Ali-Olubandwa et al. 471).
The population consists mainly of middle-class income earners. Therefore, small grocery stores, markets, and roadside stands are common features in most towns. Several agricultural NGOs seek to improve the farm yields by educating farmers and providing loans to enable the farmers to buy fertilizer and other farm inputs. Schools in the region offer meals to students. However, parents have to pay for these meals as part of the school fees.
The local food system is sufficient to cater for the community’s needs. However, the government can intervene by educating farmers on superior cultivation methods to ensure better food quality. Financial institutions ought to lower interest rates on loans to make the loans accessible to most farmers.
Ali-Olubandwa, M. Adijah Kathuri, N. J., Odero-Owanga Dolphine, and Shivoga, A. William. “Challenges Facing Small Scale Maize Farmers in Western Province of Kenya in the Agricultural Reform Era.” American Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 1.4(2011): 466-476. Sciencedomain International. Web.
Maxon, M. Robert. “Economic and Social change since 1963.” Historical Studies and Social Change in Western Kenya: An essay in Memory of Professor Gideon S. Were. Ed. William Robert Ochieng. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2002. 293-368. Print.
Mwakikagile, Godfrey. Kenya: Identity of a Nation. 1st ed. 2007. Pretoria, South Africa: New Africa Press. Print.