Despite the fact that irregular migrants (IRMs) have often been facing a lot of challenges in sustaining their livelihood in Kasulu District, in recent years, there has been an increase of IRMs from within and outside Kasulu District in search of casual labour in the local communities. The study therefore was undertaken in four villages in Kasulu, Kitanga, Kagera-Nkanda, Mvugwe and Nyachenda to determine the contribution of IRMs to the growth and prosperity of smallholder farmers. Specifically, the study aimed to; compare agricultural productivity among farming households employing IRMs and those not, identify smallholder farmers’ reasons for employing or not employing IRMs and identify problems/issues in relation to smallholder farmers and IRMs interaction. A cross-sectional research design was adopted for the study in which simple random sampling, purposive and snowball sampling techniques were employed to select a sample size of 120 respondents. Data were collected using a variety of methods, that is, a questionnaire, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and direct observations. Quantitative data were analysed using statistical package for social science (SPSS) whereby descriptive statistics were determined. In addition, gross margin analysis was done to determine farmers’ maize and beans production profitability. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis. Generally, results show that households employing IRMs recorded a higher productivity both for maize and beans: The households also recorded significantly higher gross margins for both crops. Nonetheless, the results also show existence of a general negative attitude to IRMs by farmers in the study area. It can therefore be concluded that employment of IRMs is benefiting the households involved. However, based on the negative attitude by most of the surveyed households, there is need for the relevant authorities to ensure the well-being of both the recipient communities and that the IRMs are maintained. In addition, there is a general need for education for both the recipient communities and the IRMs with regard to the right procedures to be followed by migrants under the international law.
Key words: Irregular migration, agricultural production, smallholder farmers.
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