Skip to main content

Potential of Corporate Social Responsibility for Poverty Alleviation among Contract Sugarcane Farmers in the Nzoia Sugarbelt, Western Kenya

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. 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 

  2. Beschorner, T. (2006). Ethical theory and business practises: The case of discourse ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 66, 127–139.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 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 

  4. Broadhurst, A. I. (2000). Corporations and the ethics of social responsibility: An emerging regime of expansion and compliance. Business Ethics: A European Review, 9(2), 86–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Carroll, A. B. (1979). A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4), 497–505.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Fink, A. (2003). How to manage, analyse and interpret survey data (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Global Compact (2005). Gearing up: From corporate responsibility to good governance and scalable solutions. Retrieved November 3, 2005, from http://www.unglobalcompact.org/Portal/.

  8. Government of Kenya. (2007). Vision 2030. A competitive and prosperous Kenya. Nairobi: Government Printers.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kenya Electricity Generating Company (2007). Annual report, 28–29.

  10. Kenya Sugar Board (2008). Quarterly bulletin of sugar statistics, July–September 2008.

  11. L’Etang, J. (1994). Public relations and corporate social responsibility: Some issues arising. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(2), 111–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Manakkalathil, J. & Rudolf, E. (1995). Corporate social responsibility in a globalizing market. SAM Advanced Management Journal (Winter), 29–47.

  13. McIntosh, M., Leipziger, D., Jones, K., & Coleman, G. (1998). Corporate citizenship: Successful strategies for responsible companies. London: Financial Times/Pitman Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Ministry of Agriculture (2007). Division office, Webuye. Republic of Kenya.

  15. Mugenda, & Mugenda, (1999). Research methods, quantitative and qualitative approaches. Nairobi: ACTS Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Natural Sweetness (2007). The In-house journal of Mumias sugar company, Vol. 6, 18.

  17. Neeman, W. L. (1994). Social research methods, quantitative and qualitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Republic of Kenya. (1999). National poverty eradication plan 1999–2015. Department of development co-ordination, office of the President. Nairobi: Government Printers.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Jaetzold, R. & Schmidt, H. (1983). Farm management handbook for Kenya. Ministry of Agriculture and GTZ.

  20. Smith, C. (2003). The new corporate philanthropy. In Harvard business review on corporate responsibility (pp. 157–188). Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Society for International Development (SID). (2004). Pulling apart, facts and figures on inequality in Kenya. Nairobi: SID.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Wartick, S. L., & Cochran, P. L. (1985). The evolution of the corporate social performance model. Academy of Management Review, 10(4), 758–769.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Werhane, P. H., & Freeman, R. E. (1999). Business ethics: The state of art. International Journal of Management Reviews, 1(1), 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Wood, D. J. (1991). Corporate social performance revisited. Academy of Management Review, 16(4), 691–718.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. World Bank (2007). Cost of pollution in China: Economic estimates of physical damages, available on www.worldbank.org/eapenvironment.

  26. 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.

Download references

Acknowledgments

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fuchaka Waswa.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Waswa, F., Netondo, G., Maina, L. et al. Potential of Corporate Social Responsibility for Poverty Alleviation among Contract Sugarcane Farmers in the Nzoia Sugarbelt, Western Kenya. J Agric Environ Ethics 22, 463–475 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-009-9165-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Commercial farming
  • Sugarcane
  • Ethics
  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • Kenya