Some aspects of production and marketing of sunflower in Kenya

This thesis is mainly the outcome of a field survey based on administration of questionnaire, verbal interviews as well as on-the-spot observation and analysis or available published information. The first task was to establish the degree of current production, and possible potential production. Sunflower has been grown in Kenya for many years but has never achieved much prominence as an oil crop; in fact the bulk or present production is exported to European and American countries as bird feed. Formerly, almost all of Kenya's needs for edible vegetable oils and rats were imported, but with the growth of population and incomes coupled with the current squeeze on the currencies of developing countries, importation is no longer easy nor desirable. The need for self sufficiency in vegetable fats and oils, in the short run, with a possibility of breaking into the export market has therefore become more apparent. Several oil crops could have been selected for study, but sunflower was singled out because of its present fairly widespread adoption compared to other oil crops. its good adaptation to local climatic and edaphic variations. and its lower comparative need for capital inputs. After establishing the present extent of growing and potential growing areas it was necessary to examine the economics of the industry at the farm level. It was found that the profitability of sunflower is very low. mainly because low yields due to low level of inputs, especially fertilizers. This situation is attributed to a possible belief that sunflower needs little fertilizer but more important is the fact that under the present price and yield levels. returns to fertilizer in sunflower are low. To break this circle, it is concluded that it is important to breed higher yielding varieties than the present ones. and to encourage greater use of fertilizers through better pricing of sunflower seed. The cost of marketing the seed was very high for the small scale producers mainly because small quantities of produce were moved over long distances making unit costs very high. Strengthening of cooperatives and pooling of resources privately by individuals could rectify this situation. Related to the marketing of sunflower is the very important aspect of redistribution of incomes. Per capita consumption of edible fats and oils is higher for high income groups than for low income groups. Sunflower can and does grow in marginal areas where the opportunity cost of labour is very low. Promotion of sunflower growing in these areas can provide gainful emploYment for labour which could otherwise be unemployed or underemployed, and at the same time help in the transfer of incomes from the richer to the poorer. Steps must be taken to check production in the larger areas,where the majority of farmers constitute the "rural elite" and promote it among the smaller farmers. Various measures of doing this are examined and it is concluded that the best way would probably be greater extension effort and credit among the smaller farmers, especially in the marginal areas who more than anybody else need a means to better livelihood.