Policies fronting commercialization of agriculture in Kenya assumed that realization of increased household incomes through cultivation of cash crops, would guarantee improved food security and subsequent reduction of poverty. However, most communities in Kenya growing cash crops still struggle to put food on the table. Population pressure has led to competition for limited land resource, coupled with unfavourable poverty indicators; they have impacted negatively on food access in the district. The focus of the study was on the population of smallholder tea farmers in Nandi South District of Kenya. The main objective was to investigate socio-economic factors influencing households’ food security among smallholder tea farmers in the district. Multi-stage proportional-to-size cluster sampling was used to sample 165 households. Data was collected using both questionnaires and interviews. Translog Cost Function was used to specify the supply side factors influencing food security in the district. Household dietary diversity index (HDDI) had a positive correlation between the land size on maize and output. Months of adequate household food provisioning (MHAFP) also had positive correlation with tea income, outputs of maize and tea and their respective land sizes. Factors influencing household food security were; land productivity, off-farm income and land allocation to maize and tea, household characteristics: education, gender, and employment. Optimal allocation of land between tea and maize productions will guarantee household food security. Strategies aiming at increasing household food security should target increased access to inputs for food production and productivity of land and income diversification.
Key words: Food security, commercialization, smallholder tea farmers, Nandi south, Kenya.
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