Securing Food Through Women’s Traditional Knowledge In Seed Security: The Case of Mulili Sub-Location,, Makueni County Of Eastern Kenya

Agatha Daniel Mumbua


Although achieving seed security is quite different from attaining food security, the crisis of food insecurity can be traced to seed insecurity. A discussion of food security, without paying attention to seed security is, therefore, incomplete. It is even more incomplete without revisiting the key role of women’s knowledge in ensuring seed security and consequently, food security. The decision on the type of seed to conserve falls upon the woman who knows what characteristics of the crop are most useful to the household. This

study presents the findings of a survey that investigated women’s indigenous knowledge in household food security in Mulîlîî sub-location, Makuenî County. It is informed by the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) theory and the research design was both qualitative and quantitative. The targeted

population comprised the rural women farmers. By use of purposive and simple random sampling, 3 elderly women (>60 years) and 56 women farmers (>18 and <60 years) were selected respectively. Data

was collected through an interviewer administered structured questionnaire and an in-depth interview guide. One focus group discussion was held and analyses were carried out using the Statistical Package

for Social Sciences (SPSS) for the quantitative data and by thematic analysis for the qualitative data. Findings revealed that despite the existence of vast scientific knowledge on seed and food production, women farmers still rely heavily on their traditional knowledge in ensuring seed security and consequently, food security. Faced with new and challenging realities, they not only rely on their

community’s passed down practices but have also devised new methods as they innovate and experiment on the locally available materials. The study recommends revisiting this knowledge and practices with a view of not only integrating and building on the same but also for the purpose of scientifically validating and authenticating such practices.

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