Despite the success in greenhouse farming by large scale horticultural farmers in Kenya, smallholder greenhouse farming is beset by many challenges leading to over 30% failure rates. Reasons for the high failure rate are not clearly understood. The objective of this study was to assess the challenges in greenhouse crop production by small-scale farmers in Kisii County, Kenya and provide recommendations for sustained profitability. Data was collected through structured interviews with 138 greenhouse farmers, and analysed using descriptive statistics, t-test and chi-square. Overall, 48.6% of the greenhouses were non-functional, due to pests and diseases, inadequate supply of water, high investment costs, and insufficient knowledge on greenhouse crop farming. Other challenges included lack of market for the produce, and group dynamics challenges. Most of the abandoned greenhouses were owned by institutions (60.5%) and groups (55.6%), and lesser by individuals (38.2%). Number of years of operation significantly influenced functionality of the greenhouses (p=0.04). Greenhouses owned by individuals had significantly higher probability of being functional, than those owned by groups and institutions (p=0.05). Interventions for enhancing contribution of greenhouses to food security of small-scale farmers should include capacity building of farmers on greenhouse crop production, and linking them to appropriate sources of funding.
Key words: Challenges, greenhouse, small-scale farmers, crops, food security, Kenya.
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