•The sector accounts for 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 27 percent indirectly through its linkages with other sectors.
•It also accounts for over 40 percent of the total employment and more than 70 percent of employment for the rural populace.
Kenya seeks to reduce the cost of food while increasing the agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP, Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has said.
The Agriculture CS said this is part of the drive to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in the number of food insecure Kenyans, and cut prevalence of malnutrition among children under five years of age by 27 per cent, in the medium-term.
It plans to increase the sector's contribution to the GDP by at least 48 per cent, the CS said.
Last year, agriculture remained the dominant sector, accounting for about 21.2 per cent of the overall GDP, the Economic Survey 2023 indicates, despite the sector contracting by 1.6 per cent.
To achieve this, the government will focus on agricultural research and ensure that poor farmers benefit from technical change, while enacting public policies to reduce adoption costs faced by famers.
It is also focused on creating markets for farmers, taking into cognisance the whole value chain, and investing in new product development to add value to crops.
“Lack of access to technologies which most of the time are costly, and with limited financial resources, many farmers do not take advantage of the benefits that modern technologies offer, Linturi said.
He spoke in Nairobi on Tuesday during the Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) conference by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
For Kenya and Africa to be secure in food production, subsidies are inevitable in the early phases of agricultural transformations, the CS said.
This will ensure that the poor, especially women, and smallholders benefit from technical change.
The Kenyan government has so far spent about Sh6 billion on fertiliser subsidy in the last one year, and according to the National Cereals and Produce Board, about 2. The Ministry of Agriculture has registered 3 million farmers.
The ready-made database, Linturi said, will give farmers managed access to government programs and enhance openness, accountability, and traceability in the operation of fertiliser subsidy schemes.
National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u in his 2023/24 budget proposed a Sh5 billion allocation towards the government fertiliser subsidy programme, with the agriculture sector remaining among top priority areas.
This is alongside Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Economy, Housing and Settlement, Healthcare and Digital Superhighway and Creative Industry.
The two-day Nairobi forum addressed among others, issues on post-harvest losses.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), one-third of the world’s available food never makes it from farm to table.
That’s enough food to feed all the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people in developing countries, including the African continent.
About 40 per cent of losses occur before the food even hits the market. It is lost during and immediately following harvest, as well as in processing and transport.
About 30 percent of the grains produced and close to 90 percent of fruits and vegetables are lost before they reach them, owing to inadequate post-harvest management, lack of structured markets, inadequate storage in households and on farms, and limited processing capacity.
Director climate-resilient food systems division at IDRC, Santiago Alba Corral said: “We need to share information and build strategic partnerships, with the overall objective of identifying effective interventions to reduce food loss waste as well as push for research and funding.”
The agriculture sector continues to play a critical role in Kenya, accounting for 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 27 percent indirectly through its linkages with other sectors.
The sector also accounts for over 40 percent of the total employment and more than 70 percent of employment for the rural populace.