International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Tobacco, the Labour Bottleneck and Politics of Food Security in Sirisia, Bungoma County, 1975-2005
Ndalilah Joseph W, Professor Nicholas E. Makana, Dr. PriscahTanui

The study investigated the impact of tobacco on food security in Sirisia, Bungoma County using the concepts of innovation, adaptation and commercialization. The study applied these concepts to explain how the tobacco scheme was built upon a repressive and sustained work regime among peasants at the expense of food production. The concept of innovation embraces the dynamism of African peasants and therefore, contradicts analyses that portray them purely as an amorphous mass of subsistence cultivators. Adaptation on the other hand was used to explain the copying mechanisms and the link between indigenous forms of production and the ideas, techniques and new approaches introduced by the agents of capitalism. Commercialization presupposes the changes embraced by African peasant households in response to market forces. Sirisia, accordingly, is an illustration of this state of affairs particularly in our analysis of the impact of tobacco cultivation on food security trends in the period 1975 to 2005. The paper holds that with tobacco commercialization, tobacco labour demand and food insecurity were inextricably intertwined. To survive, peasants had to take on specific strategies to overcome food deficits. The paper was based on archival research, oral interviews as well as analyzing literature on tobacco in history.

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