Effect of farmer participation in Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAS) on soybean production: a case of Kole district
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Agricultural production, particularly for low income earners is reportedly decreasing at 0.96% annually leading to unmet demand for crops such as soybean to feed the rapidly growing population. There is still a dearth of information on the effect of farmer participation in VSLAs particularly, under soybean production in Kole district. This study was conducted in Bala Sub County, Kole district, with the main objective of determining the effect of smallholder farmer participation in VSLAs on soybean production. Specifically, both VSLA participating and non-participating smallholder farmers in the study area were characterized. To achieve this, a cross-sectional design using a questionnaire was used to collect data from 150 respondents, randomly sampled from five villages. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and the linear regression model. The results showed that majority of the respondents (60%) were males, with an overall average household size of about 5.8 members, headed by a 36.8-year-old individual that has an average of 8 years of education. About 50% of the households participated in VSLAs. The household size for the non VSLA participants were generally larger (6.01) than VSLA participants (5.5). For non VSLA participants, the average age of a household head was (37.9 years) which was higher than that of the participants (35.6 years). The study showed that participation in VSLAs with obtaining credit had a positive and significant relationship with soybean production. Participation in VSLAs without obtaining credit had a negative and significant relationship with soybean production. The study therefore, recommends that more smallholder farmers should be encouraged to obtain credit for agricultural inputs since participation in VSLAs alone is not enough to increase agricultural output. VSLAs are also encouraged to set favorable terms and conditions such as favorable interest rates on credit thus enable participants easily obtain credit for agricultural production. Government would also consider increasing rural credit through supporting existing informal financial institutions.