Application of the Commodity Approach to Pigeonpea Value-Chain Analysis in Kenya

Pulses are the second most important source of human dietary protein and the third most important source of calories for over 100 million people in rural and poor urban communities in Africa. Its protein is cheaper than the animal-based protein, making it highly competitive and important in dietary regimes of poor people in Africa. For example in Kenya, pulses accounts for approximately 11% of the total daily-calorie requirements, only ranking second to cereals that provide about 45% of the daily calorie requirement. Among the pulses, pigeon pea ranks second to beans, which is among the most important staple crops in the country, with critical relevance to national food security equation. Pigeonpea is one of the most popular sources of protein for many Kenyans living in drier regions (eastern, parts of Rift Valley and coastal regions), mainly the poor who cannot afford to buy animal protein. However pigeonpea and other pulses including chickpeas and cowpeas, are considered insignificant in the country to the extent that they are sometimes excluded from the Ministry of Agriculture reports. But faced with climate change that threatens food security in Kenya, pigeonpea has gained significance due to its ability to withstand drier climatic conditions. In this regard, the paper applied the commodity approach to agricultural marketing to describe the stages in pigeon pea marketing system in Kenya. The functions relevant to this paper are value addition taking place once the commodity leaves the farms and follows through processing and marketing. The date used in the study was collected through focused group discussions with major stakeholders in the capital city of Nairobi. Results show that in Kenya, pigeonpea has three main uses for human consumption, namely; dry grain, dhal (split dry grain), vegetables and some parts for animal feeds and wood fuel. Of the total country’s annual pigeon pea production which averaged around 130,000 MT between 2008 and 2012, about 60% was utilized as dry pigeon pea grain, and the rest in the form of vegetable peas. About 60% of pigeon pea growers in Kenya take their produce to pigeon pea markets, selling about two-thirds of their total production. The crop is marketed either as dry grain, processed (split) dry grain (dhal) or green (vegetable) pigeonpea. Farmers perform minimal farm gate processing to their produce since the market offers no premiums for it. Therefore, improving the market structure to reward value addition through simple processing would be important in employment creation as well as improving farm gate margins.

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A paper submitted for presentation at the FAO Hosted Session at the IFAMA World Forum 2014 Cape Town, South Africa, June 18, 2014.

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