fortune-of-africa-countries-air-flightkenya banner
Agriculture Sector profile of Kenya

Agriculture Sector profile of Kenya

Agriculture sector profile of Kenya

Agriculture plays a vital role in Kenya as it provides employment, food security and foreign exchange among others. It does so despite the fact about 89% of its land is arid and semi arid and about 11% of the land of Kenya has a high potential for agriculture. Agriculture is the mainstay of the Kenyan economy directly contributing 26 % of the GDP annually, and another 25 % indirectly. The sector accounts for 65 % of Kenya’s total exports and provides more than 70 % of informal employment in the rural areas. The sector contributed % to the economic performance compared to 5.6% in 2015 on average contribute over 27% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Since 2013, the  Government has been initiating measures to cushion the agricultural sector, mechanize it and ensure it contributes to food security for all Kenyans.


The subsectors include the following;

State Department for Agriculture

The mandate of the sub-sector is to ensure sustainable development of agriculture for food security and economic development. The subsector is guided by the national agricultural policy and management; national food security policy; agricultural crops development; regulation and promotion; agricultural land resources inventory and management; crop research and development; agricultural mechanization policy management; agricultural farmer training; agricultural training colleges; policy on land consolidation for agricultural benefit; agricultural insurance policy; strategic grain reserve and bio-safety management; agricultural extension services standards and capacity building for agricultural staff.

State Department for Livestock

The mandate of the subsector is livestock policy management; livestock research and development; development of standards and guidelines for livestock production and extension; development of livestock industry; livestock marketing; range development and management; veterinary services and disease control; livestock branding; promotion of beekeeping; livestock insurance policy; promotion of tannery and dairy industry.

State Department for Fisheries and the Blue Economy

The mandate of the State Department for Fisheries and the Blue Economy is fisheries policy; fisheries licensing; development of fisheries; fisheries marketing; fish quality assurance; development of policy framework for Kenya’s maritime blue economy ; development of Legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the blue economy; enhancement of technical cooperation; maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management; protection and regulation of marine ecosystems; protection of fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); overall policy for exploitation of agro-based marine resources; development of fishing ports and associated infrastructure; capacity building for sustainable exploitation of agro-based marine resources; promotion of sustainable use of food based aquatic resources; protection of aquatic ecosystem; and promotion of Kenya as a centre for agro-based blue economy.

Regulatory Framework

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Kenya is vested with the power of overseeing the agricultural sector.

National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (FNSP) 2011

The Government of Kenya is strongly committed to reducing hunger and malnutrition. The Food and Nutrition Security Policy (FNSP) provides a framework that covers the multiple dimensions of food security and nutrition improvement. It is the policy of the Government that all Kenyans, throughout their life cycle enjoy at all times safe food and water in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy their nutritional needs for optimal health.

Agriculture and Vision 2030

In the Kenya Vision 2030, agriculture is identified as a key sector in achieving the envisaged annual economic growth rate. This shall be achieved through transformation of smallholder agriculture from subsistence to an innovative, commercially-oriented and modern agricultural sector. Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS, 2010-2020) has been developed to support the implementation of the Vision 2030. The strategy  outlines the characteristics, challenges, opportunities, vision, mission, strategic thrusts and the various interventions that the government will undertake to propel the agricultural sector to the future.

Agricultural Cooperatives

Kenyan agricultural cooperatives play a central role in  the livelihoods of a majority of the Kenyan population as about  80% percent of Kenyans derive their income directly or indirectly through cooperative activities, and cooperatives account for 40% of all sales across the agriculture sector. Cooperatives help farmers gain access to formal markets, engage government institutions, and improve their production practices.  Agricultural cooperatives form 46 per cent of all cooperative societies in the country. They have 3 million members out of a total membership of 7 million in the entire cooperative movement.

Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies

  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)
  • Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI)
  • Kenya Seed Company (KSC)
  • Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation
  • Miwani Sugar Company (in receivership)
  • Muhoroni Sugar Company (under receivership)
  • Nzoia Sugar Company
  • Chemelil Sugar Company
  • South Nyanza Sugar Company (SONY)
  • Agro Chemical and Food Company
  • Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC)
  • Kenya Meat Commission (KMC)
  • Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI)
  • Regulatory Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA)
  • Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS)
  • Pest Control Products Board (PCPB)
  • National Bio-Safety Authority
  • Kenya Dairy Board (KDB)
  • Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB)
  • Bukura Agricultural College
  • Statutory Boards Agricultural Information Resource Centre
  • Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council (KENTTEC)
  • Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC)
  • Marketing Kenya Fish Marketing Authority
  • National Livestock Development and Promotion Service
  • Kenya Forestry Research Institute
  • Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute
  • Coffee Research Foundation
  • Tea Research Foundation of Kenya
  • Kenya Sugar Research Foundation
  • National Irrigation Board

Statutory Boards and Development Authorities

Statutory boards provide regulatory and specialized services on behalf of the Government. Regional Development Authorities (RDAs) were formed with the overall objective of ensuring optimal exploitation of  resources for equitable, balanced and sustainable development within their areas of jurisdiction. There are six authorities:

Coast Development Authority

Ewaso Ng’iro North Development Authority

Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority

Kerio Valley Development Authority

V.Lake Basin Development Authority

Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority

Challenges facing agriculture

  • Weak infrastructure in terms of policy and government support framework;
  • Poor infrastructure;
  • Unclear Strategies to exploit both local and global market opportunities;
  • Scarce land resulting from the land tenure system;
  • The sector relies heavily on rainfall;
  • The rural farmers cannot afford the farm inputs;
  • Lack of access to agricultural finance;
  • Limited value addition to the agricultural produce and
  • Limited both local and foreign markets.

The information under the sector is organized as below;