Agriculture sector in Kenya contributes about 30 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for 80 per cent of national employment. This is despite the fact that only 15 per cent Kenya’s total land area has adequate rainfall and fertility to be farmed.
In addition to influencing the overall economic performance through its contribution to the GDP, agriculture in Kenya contributes about 40 per cent of government revenue and more than 60 per cent of the total export revenue while feeding the country.
Agriculture in Kenya is also estimated to have an additional contribution of about 26 per cent through linkages with other sectors such as manufacturing and distribution.
Tea and Horticulture
Tea and horticultural produce are the backbone of the sector, and the two most valuable of all Kenya’s exports. In 2005 the two sub-sectors accounted for 22 per cent and 23 per cent of total export revenue respectively.
The sugar sub-sector has been faced with significant challenges that have suppressed its growth, although the the situation may improve over the next few years if the government implements proposed policy changes, such as privatisation of government-owned sugar factories.
Other sub-sectors with potential to make significant contribution to the GDP include cotton, macadamia nuts, pyrethrum, corn, sisal, wheat, livestock and fishing.
Challenges Facing Agriculture in Kenya
Although Kenya’s agricultural system is classified as one of the most developed systems in Africa, Agriculture in Kenya is currently facing numerous challenges.
Inefficient markets, lack of fertiliser, limited use of improved seed and under-investment in rural infrastructure have stifled growth of the sector while condemning millions of citizens in poverty.
Some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of Kenya include provision of subsidised fertiliser and improved seed to farmers to improve harvests, and infrastructural development to help farmers to access markets.
In addition, the government has substantially improved the availability of farm credit. Plans are currently under-way to turn the Agricultural Finance Corporation into a full-fledged bank.
In the 2013/14 financial year, the government allocated Sh8 billion to complete ongoing irrigation projects within the country.
Sh3.6 billion was allocated to implement the first phase of irrigation project in Galana, Tana River, to enhance crop productivity.