KENYA'S AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE
For more information on the Ministry of Agriculture, click here.
Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, due to its significance in contributing to economic growth. Farmers in Kenya are involved in both small and large-scale farming of crops and/or livestock.
Kenya’s total area is about 587,000 km2, of which 576,076 km2 is land and 11,230 km2 is covered by water. Of the total land area, 16% is of high to medium potential. The rest is arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) and, therefore, of low agricultural potential. Out of the ASAL’s 48 million ha, 24 million ha is only useful for nomadic pastoralism, the rest can support some commercial ranching and irrigated agriculture but with added technological input.
Over 5 million people live in and derive their livelihoods in ASAL areas, the rest of the population is in the 16% high to medium land area. In a country where 80% of the population depends on agriculture, the high and medium potential areas have been reduced to small scale farms of up to 0.5 – 10 ha. As a matter of fact, 81% of small-scale farmers occupy holdings of less than 2 ha. Considering that the population growth rate is 3.2%, the pressure on land is continuously reducing the capacity to sustain food production and cash crop farming.
Kenya is broadly self sufficient in major food items except in drought years. Chronic vulnerability to drought is concentrated in the ASAL areas. Up to 5 million people in these areas are vulnerable and require humanitarian assistance from time to time. Special attention is given to these areas in terms of specific projects, which include provision of water for domestic use and for livestock and preservation of traditional drought management systems, in addition to the utilization of drought-tolerant crop varieties and rearing of drought –adapted livestock breeds.
This is Kenya’s leading export crop. Kenyan tea is famous the world over for its consistent high quality throughout the year.
Support institutions in the tea industry:
Tea Board of Kenya (TBK)
This is a government parastatal charged with the overall function of regulating the tea industry. The responsibilities of the board include:-
- Licensing of tea growing, manufacture & export;
- Carrying out research through the Tea Research Foundation (TRF);
- Promoting the Kenyan tea trade worldwide.
Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)
This is the main tea development agency responsible for all small-scale tea growers in Kenya. It accounts for almost 60% of Kenyan and 6% of global tea production. Currently, it has 51 tea manufacturing factories under its management. Each factory has a capacity of processing about 3 million kg of tea per year, with a total output capacity of about 156 million kg per annum.
Kenya Tea Growers Association
This is an organization of large-scale tea producers in Kenya. The principal functions of the association are:-
- To promote issues of common interest in cultivation, manufacture and marketing of tea;
- To promote good industrial relations by ensuring sound wage policies and good labour relations.
For more information, please contact the:
Kenya Tea Growers Association
P.O. Box 413
This comprises the production of fruits, vegetables and flowers. The average annual growth rate of 20% in the sub-sector underscores the demand of Kenya’s high quality produce in the world markets. The sub-sector is mainly large-scale and private sector-dominated, with a small percentage of small-scale farmers. It employs about 2 million people, and accounts for up to 21% of all agricultural exports.
Supporting institutions & organizations in the horticulture industry:
Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA)
This is a parastatal vested with the responsibility of developing, promoting, coordinating and regulating the horticultural industry in Kenya.It has cold rooms and pack houses, transport trucks and pre-cooling facilities for use by stakeholders, particularly small-scale growers.
Kenya Flower Council (KFC)
The Kenya Flower Council is a private voluntary association of independent growers and exporters of cut-flowers and ornamentals. KFC was formed to foster the responsible and safe production of cut flowers in Kenya, while protecting the natural environment and promoting the welfare of all farm staff.
Its main role is to promote activities of its members in development of quality assurance through implementation of codes of practice that ensure:-
- welfare and safety of employees;
- pesticide use;
- environmental concerns;
- standards (quality & quantity).
Fresh Produce Exporters Association (FPEAK)
Efforts are underway to harmonise the activities of FPEAK and KFC under the umbrella of the Kenya horticultural Council (KHC). The main objective of the council will be to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in resource utilization and service delivery to the horticultural industry in the country.
Other institutions & organizations:
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS)
This body is responsible for ensuring that producers comply with the required sanitary and phytosanitary standards for their agricultural produce destined for domestic and export markets.
Coffee is important in the Kenyan economy due to its contribution to foreign exchange earnings, farm income and employment. It is also a source of livelihood, particularly for small-scale producers, most of whom live in the heavily populated agro-ecological zones. Kenya produces arabica coffee, which is a high-quality yet mild coffee. It is grown on rich volcanic soils, found mainly in the highlands between 1500 and 2100 metre.
In terms of foreign exchange earnings, it ranks fourth after tea, horticulture and tourism, contributing about 20% of total export earnings. Kenyan coffee is known for its high quality.
Key institutions & organizations in the coffee industry:
Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK)
This is a parastatal that regulates the coffee industry. Specifically, its functions are to:
- Promote coffee production, processing and marketing;
- Register and regulate growers, pulping stations, millers, commission agents, marketing agents, buyers, brokers, roasters, packers, warehousemen, nursery owners and auctioneers;
- Licence the players mentioned above;
- Provide advisory services;
- Maintain database on coffee;
- Carry out research through the Coffee Research Foundation (C.R.F.);
- Represent the government internationally, e.g. in ICO and IACO;
- Make rules and formulate policies in consultation with government and stakeholders;
- Arbitrate on disputes.
Click here for an availability guide of Kenyan produce.
For more information on the State Department of Livestock, click here.
Livestock includes domestic animals which are kept for domestic use or profit, e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. Besides these, rabbits, camels, fish, donkeys and bees are also found. Livestock farming is a very important area because the products from livestock are key export commodities.
The major types of commercial livestock farming include dairy and beef farming.
Beef farming is very important in Kenya today. Ninety per cent of beef cattle in Kenya are in the hands of subsistence farmers and pastoralists. Today the cattle population exceeds 10 million heads, and the large-scale livestock farmers keep animals both for commercial (meat, milk) and subsistence purposes. The distribution of beef cattle in Kenya is influenced by rainfall patterns. Small-scale beef farming is carried out in almost all parts of Kenya.
Before meat is sold, it is be inspected and declared either fit or unfit for human consumption. The canning and freezing plants for beef are found in Nairobi, Thika and Nakuru, and the canned meat is mainly exported.
Dairy Farming in Kenya
This is a type of farming whereby cattle are kept for milk production. Dairy farming is mainly practiced in several parts of the Rift Valley and the Central, Eastern, Coast and Western Provinces. It is mostly practised by small-scale holders, who account for 80% of the milk produced in Kenya, while large-scale farming accounts for the remaining 20%.
Dairy animals mainly kept include:
- Channel island cows, these include Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney;
- Freshian cows;
- Ayshire cows;
- Sahiwal cows - most suitable in the tropical land.
Kenya's sheep population stands at 4 million, and the Maasai are thought to have 1 million. The greater percentage is indigenous, doing well in the dry areas. The exotic breeds are found in cooler, wetter highlands in Molo, Timau and Nyandarua. Most of Kenya's sheep are kept for production of meat (mutton). Wool is produced mainly in the highlands.
Pig farming is another form of livestock farming. It can be practiced as a specialty or as a part of mixed farming operations. As with dairy cattle, food can be grown on the farm, especially to feed the livestock, and they can also feed on a variety of crop remains. The Farmers Choice Company in Kenya deals in pigs and pig product,s e.g. sausages, ham, bacon, salami, etc.
In Kenya, chicken is the most important class of poultry, although duck, turkey and goose are also available. The poultry industry has grown tremendously due to the demand of meat and eggs, particularly in the urban areas. It is vital to note that hardly can one find pure poultry breeds. The most important poultry trade is centred around hybrids developed by crossing a few pure lines.
Most of the goats in Kenya are used for meat and milk production. It is estimated that the country has approximately 5 million goats. Most of the goats are kept by the Maasai, Boran, Turkana and Pokot. Goats are kept in areas where the environmental conditions make it more or less impossible to keep other domestic animals. They can withstand drought and high temperatures, and can eat almost all plant growth.