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Working Paper 54 - Adaptation to Rising Population Density: Voices from Rural Kenya

Authors: Daniel Kyalo Willy, Milu Muyanga and T.S. Jayne


This study provides empirical evidence on the link between population density and agricultural intensification and other strategies that rural communities use to adapt to increasing population density. The qualitative data used in this study were collected through Focus group discussions (FGDs) among experienced community members who provided historical accounts on the dynamics of rural communities and transitions in agriculture that can be linked to scarcity of land associated with population density growth. The results generated by this study offer some insights on the link between population density growth and agricultural development. The study finds evidence of a Boserupian type of agricultural transformation in rural Kenya. Rural communities mainly responded to scarcity of land through agricultural intensification, migration and off farm diversification. Unsustainable land fragmentation, decline in agricultural outputs and incomes and deterioration in soil quality were cited as key phenomena accompanying the strategies adopted in response to population density growth. From the results we draw some policy implications that can provide insights to policy makers to guide sustainable agricultural development in the densely populated areas which include reversal of land fragmentation, improved market access, proper use of fertilizers and land policies that encourage migration into scarcely populated areas.


Working Paper 54: Adaptation to Rising Population Density: Voices from Rural Kenya


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