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Farmers’ Agency and Experiences of Agricultural Change in Rural Kenya: Insights from Exploratory Fieldwork, STEPS Working Paper 102, Brighton: STEPS Centre. Authors:  Atela, J., Tonui, C. and Glover, D. (2018)

Using novel agricultural technologies to boost farm productivity in the face of climatic and demographic disruption remains a priority for African policy and research. This paper uses an innovative, participatory and ethnographic methodology to explore, through farmers’ experiences, the historical pathways of social, ecological and technical (socio-eco-technical) change that have reshaped agriculture, livelihoods and rural landscapes in three sites in Kenya (Machakos, Siaya and Kisumu Counties) over recent decades. The paper identifies events and processes that triggered major changes in farming systems at household and community levels. Insights from engagements with farmers reflect an evolution in the strategic direction of agricultural development in Kenya from a more ‘bureaucratic’ mode during the colonial and immediate post-independence periods to a more ‘technocratic’ mode today.

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