Globally, the vegetable oil demand is growing due to rising food consumption in emerging countries such as China and due to the high demand for biofuels. The current world vegetable production estimates stand at 187 million tons for the year 2016/2017. Of the estimated vegetable oil production, 70.3 million tons (37.6%) comes from palm and palm kernel, 55 million tons (30%) arise from soybean while the remaining 32.5% are supplied by canola, sunflower, peanut and cottonseed oils. Canola production is becoming an important crop in Kenya due to the high demand for edible oils, with the current production not meeting the current demand. This study evaluates canola production efficiency in Kieni West Constituency and its determinants using a stochastic production frontier approach and a sample of randomly selected 46 canola farmers. The output and input variables measured included the total amount of canola produced, land size under canola production, quantity of canola seeds, labour quantity engaged, and fertilizer quantity. The total input costs and income from canola farming were also evaluated. The mean technical efficiency score was 0.97 with 50% of the farms being efficient. The determinants of canola production included gender of the farmer, age of the farmer, years of schooling of the farmer and number of household members. Canola production was found profitable with the farmers earning an average income of Kshs. 96532.61 (965.32 US$) and a profit of Kshs. 76413.04 (764.13 US$) per season. Thus, the study recommends that there is need for policy makers to promote the crop as an alternative to other crops grown commonly in the area such as maize and coffee which have less return than canola. Measures should specifically be put in place to popularize the crop especially among the younger canola farmers who were found to be more efficient than the older farmers. Seed is also not readily available in Kenya, hence measures that would help farmers’ access high quality canola seeds should be put in place.
Key words: Canola, technical efficiency, determinants, Kieni West Constituency.
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