African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6576

Full Length Research Paper

Determinants of labour mobility within smallholder farms in western Kenya and implications for labour use efficiency

Mercy W. Kamau1*, Kees Burger2, Ken E. Giller3 and Arie Kuyvenhoven2
1Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Socio-Economics and Biometrics Division, Kari Headquarters Complex,Kaptagat Road, Nairobi, Kenya. 2Development Economics Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. 3Plant Production Systems Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 22 June 2012
  •  Published: 05 October 2012


Significant gains can be made if smallholder farms’ households can change their livelihood strategy. This paper is concerned with how smallholder farmers allocate labour within their farms and the barriers to cropping activities with higher outcomes. Efficiency of households in labour use across the farm was evaluated by comparing labour returns across various crops while controlling the variability in bio-physical characteristics of plots. The expectation was that returns to a single factor of production would be equal, an indication that households are likely to benefit from interventions aimed at improving their livelihood. The results obtained reveal that farmers allocate comparatively, more labour to food crops than to market-oriented crops. This suggests that labour mobility within smallholder farms is constrained. Interventions which reduce the marketing costs for food and cash crops; increase participation in labour markets; and improve other rural markets like the financial will, relax the labour constraint thereby empowering smallholder farms’ households to allocate labour more efficiently on their farms.


Key words: Marginal product of labour, allocative efficiency, within farm, Kenya.