Find Agriculture expertise in Kenya
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries together contribute 25% of Kenya's GDP (2010). More than two-thirds of the population work in agriculture, supported by the growing demand for agricultural produce in urban areas. However, many small-scale farmers struggle to earn enough to support their families through trade in local markets. With agricultural land accounting for 48.1% of total land area in 2009, about one half of agricultural output is non-marketed subsistence production. Farming is largely carried out by small producers, usually cultivating no more than two hectares, operated by around three million farming families. Although there are still large coffee, tea and sisal plantations, increasingly cash crops are grown by small-scale farmers.
Agricultural produce includes horticultural products, tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, beef, pork, poultry and eggs. Most of the corn, potatoes, bananas, beans and peas are grown in small farms. Horticultural products and tea are the main exports. Around 1,000 tonnes of fresh produce worth US$3 million is exported every day, whilst the country is the third largest exporter of tea in the world (2010). In 2010 tea exports generated US$417,661,000. The country also has a thriving informal milk sector, supported by 800,000 small-scale farmers and 350,000 milk vendors. The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for agriculture; the Horticultural Crops Development Authority and the Tea Board of Kenya are key public agencies.
In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2010-13) Kenya ranked 62nd in the world (out of 144 countries) in terms of its balanced agricultural policy costs, with a value of 4 out of 7, just above the world mean of 3.9. This found it four places below neighbouring Uganda, also with a value of 4.
Kenya faces challenges posed by climate change, having suffered from severe droughts and flooding during the 2000s. The National Climate Change Response Strategy was published in 2010 with a number of recommendations, including investment in water harvesting, early warning systems, food storage facilities, drought tolerant crops such as millet and cassava and promotion of conservation agriculture. It also suggests breeding animals that would cope better with climactic change and improved vaccination programmes.
At the same time, the Kenya Agricultural Research Unit has set up a specialised climate change unit. As part of this, seeds of drought tolerant crop varieties are being produced, while studies on livestock are being undertaken to improve productivity.
With attainment of food security a priority, agricultural research is being broadened to include government departments, universities, NGOs, the private sector and farmers. The state is implementing numerous plans to increase agricultural productivity, promote market access, enhance availability of affordable inputs and credit to farmers and promote sustainable land use.