Participatory Learning and Action for Enhanced Sugarcane Farming Performance in Kakamega County, Kenya
Abstract: The study aimed at establishing the significance of participatory learning and action (PLA) on the performance of sugarcane farming project in Kakamega County, Kenya. The study adopted a Mixed Research Design, and was guided by Kanter’s theory of empowerment and the General systems theory. Target population comprised of Sugarcane farmers, Company workers, and business people. Research findings indicate that farmers in Kakamega County are not empowered to participate in the sugarcane farming project. This is demonstrated in several aspects as follows: First, there is no capital/finance provided to farmers to enhance their farming as only 21(21.0%) of farmers receive this help, sugarcane farmers are not provided with farm inputs for effective sugarcane cultivation as only 23(23.0%) of farmers receive this aid, and fourth, there are no motivational incentives given to farmers as encouragement for them to continue cultivating sugarcane as only 9(9.0%) of farmers receive incentives. Only 34(29.8%) of sugarcane farmers and workers take part in farm training aimed at improving sugarcane performance and the rest, 80(70.1%) do not. Secondly, the sugarcane company provides workshops on enhanced sugarcane farming to only 16(14.0%) of the residents while 98(85.9%) of the rest are never given this exercise. Again, 103(90.3%)of the sugarcane farmers and workers have never been taken for refresher courses aimed at improving their skills in sugarcane farming as only 11(9.6%) are provided with this opportunity. Farmers and workers are not engaged in agricultural research programs: only 14(12.2%) are given this exercise while the rest, 100(87.7%) are not. There is low level of learning, interaction and communication among sugarcane farmers in the county as 63% of farmers do not learn farming skills through interaction, 24% sometimes learn, and only 13% fully interact, communicate and learn from each other. Majority of sugarcane farmers (43%) do not consult or learn from other farmers simply because they have no interest to do so. For these reasons 89% of sugarcane farmers have pulled out of sugarcane farming, meaning that Mumias Sugar Company has lost 89% of its raw materials. The study was satisfied that sugar industry in Kakamega County is collapsing mainly because farmers are less empowered to participate in the project and because there are no basic farming skills provided to farmers to enable them take part in the sugarcane project. To revive this project, empowerment of sugarcane farmers and interactive learning are recommended.
Key terms: Participation, Empowerment, Training,Interaction, Learning