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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Agricultural Technology Adoption: A Panel Analysis of Smallholder Farmers’ Fertilizer use in Kenya


Africa is the only region where agricultural productivity has continued to decline over the last decades and poverty levels have increased. This has necessitated the need to increase agricultural productivity. One way of increasing agricultural productivity is through introduction and use of improved agricultural technologies. This paper applied a double-hurdle model on a ten-year panel household survey data for 1,275 households to examine determinants of fertilizer adoption and use intensity in Kenya.

Results show that the proportion of households using fertilizer dramatically rose in the last decade while fertilizer application rates increased marginally. Fertilizer use in the drier agro ecological zones is still way below that in the higher agro ecologically potential zones, indicating higher risk involved in and lower profitability of using fertilizer in the drier areas. Econometric estimation results show that age, education, credit, presence of a cash crop, distance to fertilizer market and agro ecological potential are statistically significant in influencing the probability of adopting fertilizer. The strongest determinants of fertilizer use intensity are gender, dependency ratio, credit, presence of cash crop, distance to extension service and agro ecological potential.

The study suggests improving access to gricultural credit by especially low income farmers; concerted efforts to promote fertilizer use among farmers in the drier areas; and government investment in rural infrastructure, efficient port facilities and standards of commerce to reduce the cost of distributing fertilizer, as some of the ways to promote fertilizer use.

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