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1.2 Scope of this study

Objectives and Methods

This study, as well as other studies that were undertaken to provide household-level information about the relationship between tree growing and the rural economy, is intended to address two sets of questions. First, how does tree growing, as a labour-extensive cash cropping activity, complement urban wage employment as a strategy for overcoming problems with capital, land and labour markets? Do trees ease or intensify land use constraints imposed by labour migration? Secondly, does tree growing, an activity that requires low levels of capital input, have any particular advantage as a use for land in situations where limited credit sources have made it difficult for farmers to plant other more capital-intensive cash crops?

Several approaches have been used to address these questions. This study summarizes some of the descriptive information, as well as information from the historical record, in an attempt to describe the evolution of labour markets and land tenure systems and their impact on tree growing. It reviews, as well, traditional tree cultivation and management practices and the pricing and policies which brought about changes in land use that affected particular types of tree growing practices.

Most of this work has been carried out in the high potential agricultural zone of Murang'a District in Central Province of Kenya. Figure 1.1 above shows the location of Murang'a District. The district is in the middle of Kikuyu country and much of the discussion in this study is specific to the economic setting, land use practices, and historical and cultural processes that dominate in these areas, and that are in some ways unique to the Kikuyu. Many of the observations are however also of relevance to other parts of the country.

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