Family Planning, Irrigation, and Agricultural Cooperatives for Sustainable Food Security in Kenya

  •  Rose Ingutia    
  •  John Sumelius    


Rapid population growth causes smallholders to practice unsustainable forms of land intensification to meet increasing food demand. Food insecurity is exacerbated by unreliable rainfall. We revisit family planning, smallholder irrigation, and agricultural cooperatives as potential sustainable solutions. We use primary data from Kakamega Central and Navakholo in Kenya. Results from respondents indicate 83% had no family planning information, while 82% had no access to irrigation. The main reasons are poverty, illiteracy, misconceptions, gender inequality, and constraints in accessing credit, lack of investment in water resources, and lack of family planning. Lack of access to agricultural extension services limits the adoption of sustainable farming practices. Cooperatives’ principles and values make them suitable pathways to reach the poorest and facilitate members’ access to productive resources. Cooperatives can be used to train members in sustainable agricultural practices and educate members on family planning issues. Descriptive statistics and econometric regression results suggest that cooperatives have contributed to better yields, incomes, nutritional status, and reduced poverty. However, they are constrained by a lack of capital, credit, infrastructure, markets, training and technology, delayed payment, and low prices. Governments and development agencies should support the establishment and development of cooperatives with capacity building, market infrastructure, finance, and education in cooperative principles and values.

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