Thumbnail Small-holder farmers against the state in a liberalized market economy: a case study of the boycott by Mwea irrigation scheme

The study's main objective was to investigate the existing problems at the Mwea Irrigation
Scheme that contributer to the farmers violent severing of their links with the National
Irrigation Board. The study therefore hypothesized that the single - buyer and the topdown
administrative policies, adopted by the National Irrigation Board, and the insecurity
of tenure at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, did contribute to the boycott by the Mwea
farmers. The study also sought to establish any other factors that may have contributed to
the boycott by the Mwea farmers.
A total of 150 farmers were interviewed in a survey with the questionnaire as the main
tool of data gathering. In addition in depth interviews were used to gather information.
The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics.
The study found that the leasehold land tenure system in operation at the Mwea Irrigation
Scheme is highly inappropriate and many a farmer would prefer freehold land tenure
system backed by a title deed. It was found that apart from being assured of security of
tenure, possession of a title deed would enable the farmers to borrow from the banks using
the title deeds as collateral security thereby enabling farmers to diversify their activities.
Another important finding of the study is that the single buyer policy employed by
National Irrigation Board was very inappropriate. It was found that as a result of the said
policy, farmers were paid very low prices for their paddy, as they were not allowed to sell
their paddy to whoever offered the highest price. It was also found that because the NIB
was the sole buyer of all paddy produced by the Mwea farmers, farmers were allowed to
retain only 12 bags of paddy for domestic consumption. This was found to be insufficient
as many farmers have large families.
One major finding of the study was tiat the top-down administrative policy employed by
the NIB, was ve~y inappropriate. This policy, it was found, denied the farmers a chance to
participate in decision - making. Another major finding of the study, which is closely tied
to the issue of administration, was that the relationship between the farmers and the
National Irrigation Board staff was very strained. It was found that the harsh rules, spelt
out in the Irrigation Act, which the farmers had to abide to, together with the top - down
administrative policy that left the farmers with little or no say in the running of the scheme,
gave rise to this strain in relationship.
The study recommended government assistance in areas such as research and marketing.
The government can also restrict the importation or poor quality rice to protect domestic
consumers. It is also reconunended that the government reviews the issue of issuance of
title deeds to the Mwea Irrigation Scheme farmers. To the fanners, it is reconunended
that they layout and follow strict guidelines as the survival of the scheme is in their hands.
OveraU, there is more need for government assistance to the Mwea Irrigation Scheme
-College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) [23096]