Agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy. Overall, 80% of Kenya’s population derives their livelihoods from production, processing and marketing of crops, livestock, fisheries and other sector related products. The agricultural sector generates 18% of formal and 60% of informal employment, and
contributes 24% of Kenyan GDP directly, and 27% if agro-processing is included, with a value of about Ksh 342 billion (US$ 4.6 billion). The sector also accounts for about 65% of total exports. In this regard, Kenya Vision 2030 identified agriculture as the key sector through which to deliver the 10% annual economic growth rate envisaged under the economic pillar. To achieve this target, the agricultural sector developed the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy, which aims at transforming the country’s smallholder agriculture sector from subsistence farming characterized by low productivity and value addition to an innovative, commercially-oriented, internationally competitive and modern agriculture/ agribusiness sector. Given its importance, the performance of the sector is therefore reflected in the performance of the whole economy.
In Kenya, the average age of a farmer is 60 years. The 2009 census shows that out of a population of approximately 38 million people, youth (15-35 years) and children (0-14 years) together represent 78% of the Kenyan population. The Kenyan unemployment rate stands at approximately 40%. An estimated
64% of the country’s unemployed are the youth.
A large divide exists in the agricultural sector, despite the sector emerging as the second largest foreign exchange earner in the Kenyan economy. The youth population has opted to abandon agriculture in pursuit of white collar job opportunities in urban centers and cities. The development of agriculture is also important for poverty reduction since most of the vulnerable groups like pastoralists, the landless, and smallholder farmers, also depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihoods. Growth in the sector is therefore expected to have a greater impact on a larger section of the population than any other sector. Experts identify lack of market access, low productivity on-adoption of modern farming systems, climate change, low fertilizer usage, inadequate storage and processing facilities as being the most crucial. Additionally, other constraints include; lack of appropriate financing mechanisms, rural-urban migration particularly with the youthful population and agricultural extension and innovation. The overall effect of the challenges is lower levels of farm productivity and income hence leading to poor livelihoods. The sub-sectors to be focused on are; dairy value chains, fish farming, poultry value chain and emerging livestock (bee and rabbit keeping)
Access to inputs and markets: Improved access to input and output markets is a key precondition for the transformation of the agricultural sector from subsistence to commercial production. Smallholder farmers must be able to benefit more from efficient markets and local-level value-addition and be more
exposed to competition
Extension and innovation: Weak linkages between research institutions and the development organizations. The strategy aims at strengthening the linkages between agricultural research organizations a universities and KDA, the implementing organization for facilitating diffusion of technologies.
“To support the development of value chain and value addition to promoting agribusiness development for the smallholder farmers through innovations, strategic partnerships, linkages to finance and markets”.
Specific strategies To achieve the above broad strategy, K-Rep Development Agency (KDA), will adopt the following specific actions:
- Facilitate the smallholder farmers to sustainably increase farm productivity and value addition through technological innovations and extension services.
- Develop and or facilitate access to markets through supporting farmers put in place basic infrastructures and access to market information
- Development of appropriate financial instruments/channels for farmers and or linking farmers to access financial services through strategic financial partnerships