Gender-specific determinants of Zai technology use intensity for improved soil water management in the drylands of Upper Eastern Kenya

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Graduate School of Media and Communications


Degraded landscapes and soil water stress are long-standing problems to smallholder agriculture in the drylands. Despite the important roles of zai technology in restoring degraded landscapes and improving agricultural productivity, the technology is yet to be adopted to its fullest extent. This can be attributed to gender-linked disparities in agricultural technology utilization. The study, therefore, sought to determine gender-specific determinants of zai technology choice and use-intensity. A multistage sampling technique was employed in randomly selecting 133 female-headed households and 267 male-headed households in Tharaka South sub-county. Quantitative data were collected in a cross-sectional survey using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Using sex-disaggregated data, Chi-square and t-test statistic were employed to test the statistical significance of dummy and mean value of continuous variables, respectively. Gender specific determinants of zai technology choice and use-intensity were determined using the Heckman-two-step econometric model. The results revealed that, more women farmers (44%) were using zai technology as compared to men (38%). Among women farmers, total cultivated land, access to animal-drawn farm implements, and group membership had an influence on zai technology choice. For men, total cultivated land, group membership and access to extension services positively influenced choice of zai technology. With regard to zai technology use-intensity, total land cultivated, livestock densities, group membership and frequency of trainings on soil and water management were important determinants among women farmers. For men, zai technology use-intensity was determined by total cultivated land and farmers’ perceptions on soil erosion. We recommend that, gender-sensitive farm-level policies oriented towards farmer socioeconomic profiles are important deliberations towards choice and intense application of soil and water conservation strategies such as the zai technology.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.