Cassava commercialization is a concept that has been used by many development practitioners because of its possible strategic role in transforming livelihoods of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, including Siaya and Kilifi Counties in Kenya. This concept can easily be implemented when the levels of commercialization is known. However, empirical evidence reveals little information on the levels of cassava commercialization amongst smallholder farmers in these counties. Thus effective policy interventions on cassava commercialization for these farmers are difficult to implement, since there is no proper understanding of their levels of cassava commercialization. Therefore the main objective of this paper was to characterize levels of cassava commercialization among smallholder farmers. Factors influencing cassava commercialization were also evaluated. The data was collected from 381 farm households in Siaya and Kilifi Counties (Kenya).This data was used to calculate the Household Commercialization Index (HCI) and Value Addition Indices (VAI) which were then integrated to form the Commercialization Index (CI). This integrated index formed the basis for categorizing the levels of commercialization. A multinomial regression model was used to evaluate factors that affect levels of commercialization. The results obtained revealed that majority of smallholder farmers’ operate at low and medium categories with very few of them at high level. Distance to the market, cassava acreage, schooling years, gender and marketing costs were the key determinants of the levels of commercialization. In order to promote high level commercialization, the study recommends developing policies that enhance formal education among farmers, optimal usage of land and minimization of transportation costs through infrastructural development.
Key words: Commercialization, cassava, smallholder farmers, value addition, market participation.
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