Kenya’s Agricultural Sector at a Glance
Agriculture in Kenya plays a vital role in contributing to its economy. The sector brings in 65% of total export earnings to the country and provides the livelihood for more than 80% of the Kenyan population (employment, income and food security needs). More remarkably, the sector employs more than 40 per cent of the total population and more than 70 per cent of Kenya’s rural people. Agriculture in Kenya is large and complex, with a myriad of parastatals, non-governmental, private and public sectors.
The sector is also a main drive of the non- agricultural sector. Operations such as tourism, transport, education, construction and other social services are in one way or the other intertwined with agriculture. It is also important to note, that Kenya’s population has increased significantly (growing from 10 million in 1970 to 40 million in 2012) and it is projected that in the next 20 years, that number will double to 83 million. Because of this, acres of land in areas of high agricultural fertility are decreasing in size, affecting food production.
With the unpredictability of the weather patterns due to climate change, Kenyan farmers who were previously used to rain-fed farming systems are now being pushed into dryer areas where they are subjectable to drought. Expansion of agriculture has also spread to arid lands which has affected the dynamics of nomadic communities, where competition for natural resources have resulted in clashes in some areas. Besides, there has been a significant increase in the number of people abandoning the nomadic life for the more settled communities which dismally are heavily dependent on food aid.
Given the importance of agriculture in Kenya’s rural areas where poverty is extensive, the sector’s relevance in eradicating poverty cannot be amplified enough. For achieving growth in the sector after recent years of drought, Kenya needs to strengthen and improve the performance of the sector and most importantly engage the poorest in this process.
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BY Mburu Kiereini
Digital Marketing Strategist -IRES