Potential of Corporate Social Responsibility for Poverty Alleviation among Contract Sugarcane Farmers in the Nzoia Sugarbelt, Western Kenya
Although contract sugarcane farming is the most dominant and popular land use among farmers in Nzoia Sugarbelt, results from a 2007 study suggests that the intended goal of increasing farmers’ incomes seems to have failed. With a mean monthly income of Kenya Shillings 723 (US $ 10) from an average cane acreage of 0.38 hectares, it would be difficult for a household of eight family members to meet their basic needs and lead a decent life. Analysis of farmer statements showed that up to 86% of the changes in net income were significantly determined by six cost variables as a group (i.e., acreage, tillage costs, seedcane costs, transport costs, yield, and farmer’s education level). Area under sugarcane had the greatest influence on net income whereby an increase in one hectare under cane would result in an increase of Kenya Shillings 110,427 in net income (per crop cycle of 21 months), holding other variables constant. This translates into Kenya shillings 5,258 per month (or 175 per day per household, or for a family of eight people—KES 22 or US $ 0.3) per member, which is far below the international standard of absolute poverty. Key net income depressors were tillage, seedcane, and transportation costs, all of which were determined by the company with no input from farmers. To bridge income gaps between the company and farmers in favor of sustainable community livelihoods, this paper argues strongly for the need to institutionalize Corporate Social Responsibility within the daily operations of the company particularly to address net-income depressors. Ten key building blocks for such a policy for Nzoia Sugar Company are suggested, based on farmers’ responses and ethical considerations.
KeywordsCommercial farming Sugarcane Ethics Sustainable livelihoods Kenya
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
The authors wish to thank the Lake Victoria Research Initiative (VicRes), a program of the Inter University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) for financing the research during the period 2007–2008, from which this paper is derived. Appreciation is also extended to sugarcane farmers for availing critical data that formed the basis of this paper.
- Arthaud-Day, M. L. (2005). Trans-national corporate social responsibility: A tri-dimensional approach to international CSR research. Business Ethics Quarterly, 15(1), 1–22.Google Scholar
- Birch, D. (2003). Corporate social responsibility: Some key theoretical issues and concepts for new ways of doing business. Journal of New Business Ideas and Trends, 1(1), 1–1995.Google Scholar
- Fink, A. (2003). How to manage, analyse and interpret survey data (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Global Compact (2005). Gearing up: From corporate responsibility to good governance and scalable solutions. Retrieved November 3, 2005, from http://www.unglobalcompact.org/Portal/.
- Government of Kenya. (2007). Vision 2030. A competitive and prosperous Kenya. Nairobi: Government Printers.Google Scholar
- Kenya Electricity Generating Company (2007). Annual report, 28–29.Google Scholar
- Kenya Sugar Board (2008). Quarterly bulletin of sugar statistics, July–September 2008.Google Scholar
- Manakkalathil, J. & Rudolf, E. (1995). Corporate social responsibility in a globalizing market. SAM Advanced Management Journal (Winter), 29–47.Google Scholar
- McIntosh, M., Leipziger, D., Jones, K., & Coleman, G. (1998). Corporate citizenship: Successful strategies for responsible companies. London: Financial Times/Pitman Publishing.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Agriculture (2007). Division office, Webuye. Republic of Kenya.Google Scholar
- Mugenda, & Mugenda, (1999). Research methods, quantitative and qualitative approaches. Nairobi: ACTS Press.Google Scholar
- Natural Sweetness (2007). The In-house journal of Mumias sugar company, Vol. 6, 18.Google Scholar
- Neeman, W. L. (1994). Social research methods, quantitative and qualitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and bacon.Google Scholar
- Republic of Kenya. (1999). National poverty eradication plan 1999–2015. Department of development co-ordination, office of the President. Nairobi: Government Printers.Google Scholar
- Jaetzold, R. & Schmidt, H. (1983). Farm management handbook for Kenya. Ministry of Agriculture and GTZ.Google Scholar
- Smith, C. (2003). The new corporate philanthropy. In Harvard business review on corporate responsibility (pp. 157–188). Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.Google Scholar
- Society for International Development (SID). (2004). Pulling apart, facts and figures on inequality in Kenya. Nairobi: SID.Google Scholar
- World Bank (2007). Cost of pollution in China: Economic estimates of physical damages, available on www.worldbank.org/eapenvironment.
- Kivuitu, M. & Yambayamba, K. (2005). How can corporate social responsibility deliver in Africa? Insights from Kenya and Zambia. Perspectives on corporate responsibility for environment and development, International institute for environment and development, No. 3.Google Scholar