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Abstract, Forest Policy and Economics, 2018

Trees that produce oilseeds have the potential to improve rural livelihoods through the production of vegetable oil for energy and other purposes, as well as valuable co-products, such as animal feed and organic fertilizers. In Kenya, Croton megalocarpus (Croton) is a prolific and widely distributed tree with such potential being currently underutilized. In support of scaling up the promising Croton value chain in Kenya, a choice experiment was designed and conducted as part of a survey with 200 rural households in four counties in the Central region of the country. The objective was to assess household preferences in planting and cultivating Croton trees for collection and selling of seeds to a growing market. Attributes for the choice model production system included seedling cost, oilseed yield, tree maturation period, labour for seed collection, and seed selling price. Results show that almost all households have Croton trees on their land and are willing to produce Croton seeds, although clear tradeoffs among the attributes exist. Seed price is the most dominant single attribute cutting across all socio-demographic characteristics. Time and labour constraints were significant for some households: farmers are more averse to longer maturation periods than non-farmers, while those already collecting seeds for the nascent industry are less concerned about the opportunity costs of time and labour than non-collectors. The results provide guidance for the development of a Croton value chain which can have positive impacts on rural livelihoods in East Africa.

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