Decentralization and Access to Agricultural Extension Services in Kenya

The form and content of decentralization has dominated development discourse and public sector reform agenda in Kenya in the last two decades. The case of agricultural extension service presents decentralization in a difficult context partly due to lack of information on its possible diverse impacts especially on resource poor farmers. This paper explores the effect of decentralization of agricultural extension on access, accountability and empowerment, and efficiency of delivering services to farmers. Secondary data, participatory research methods and primary data from a random sample of 250 farmers were used. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, multivariate analysis and logistic regression. The results show that there is improved access to extension services with increasing level of decentralization. Farmers from areas with higher decentralized extension also showed enhanced level of awareness of different channels for delivery of extension services. This improved knowledge, being an important component of empowerment of the farming community, resulted from the increase of service providers, who displayed synergy in their multiple methods of operation. Public delivery channels were the most affordable and were also ranked first for quality. Income, literacy levels, distance from towns and access to telephone significantly influenced access to extension services. Gender of the household-head was a key determinant for seeking out extension services in areas with high concentration of agricultural activities. For a pluralistic system to work there is need for better co-ordination between the various groups. Although there is evidence of partnership and synergy between service providers, there appeared to be little effective co-ordination of the groups involved. The government and other stakeholders should work towards developing a strong institutional framework that will guide and enhance this mutually beneficial partnership.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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