Institutional Settings and Changes of Common Pool Resources in an Agro-Industrial Food System: An Anthropological Study of Export Horticulture in Northwest Mount Kenya

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Mariah Ngutu, Salome Bukachi, Charles Owuor Olungah, Tobias Haller

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Anthropology & Ethnography Keywords: An anthropological study; Agro-industrial food system; Institutional settings; formal and informal institutions; common pool resources

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, supporting up to 80% of the rural livelihoods. Kenya’s export horticulture is currently the leading Agriculture subsector in Kenya has evolved from small-holder farming to agro-industrial large-scale export farming dominated by multinational companies. It is regarded as an agro-industrial food system based on the economies of scale producing for mass markets outside of the production area. Much of the food consumed from this food system has undergone multiple transformations and been subject to a host of formal and informal insitutions (rules, regulations, standards, norms and values). An Anthropological study of export horticulture in Northwest Mount Kenya was carried out utilizing qualitative data collection methods in Northwest Mount Kenya region. Data was coded and analysed thematically based on grounded theory approach. The study described the institutional settings of export horticulture from an emic perspective as changing and defining the operations of the food system access and management of common pool resources, namely water and land. With the agro-industrial food system competing for these scarce resources in a semi-arid zone, there is potential for conflict and also reduced production and overall benefits to the different actors in the study area.

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