PARTICIPATION IN FARMER FIELD SCHOOL (FFS) EXTENSION AND ITS EFFECTS ON PRODUCTIVITY IN SMALLHOLDER TEA PRODUCTION IN KENYA
Agricultural extension is considered to be a key driver of technological change and productivity growth in agriculture. In Kenya, like in the rest of the developing economies, agricultural extension has largely been delivered through supply driven approaches. Due to perceived low impact of agricultural extension, the country is implementing the National Extension Policy (NEP) which advocates for demand-driven extension and participation of other players. Using the case of the smallholder tea sub-sector, this paper examines the effects the FFS extension on tea crop yields in Kenya. The FFS system uses participatory approaches including the demonstration of best sustainable practices in the farms and farmers learn by doing. Data for the study was collected from a sample of 525 farm households in Western Kenya using a multi stage random sampling procedure and analysed using the propensity score matching (PSM) model which controls for self-selection endogeneity. The results of the model show that participation in FFS extension would on average increase annual tea yields by 137.65 kgs per hectare while the conventional train & visit system has no effects on yields. The participation in FFS extension was found to be associated with education level of the household head, choice of market channel for green leaf, access to credit, intensity in the use of family labour and access to the conventional extension system. These results indicate that FFS increases agricultural productivity suggesting the need for investments to enhance FFS access among smallholder farmers.