Kenya's agricultural sector is growing dynamically - but its enormous potential is far from exhausted.




Official language

Swahili and English


580,370 km²


Approximately 46 million

Population growth

2.6% (about 1.2 million per year)

Rural population

34 million (74.4% of the total population)

Gross domestic product

USD 63.4 billion

Per capita annual income

USD 1377

Share of agriculture in GDP


Share of the population suffering from malnutrition


Child mortality under five years


Human Development Index

Index: 0.548 / Rank: 145 /

Proportion of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day



According to the United Nations Food Programme, the security of Kenya's food supply is threatened by the following factors in particular: poverty, recurring droughts and strong population growth (one million people per year).  The dry areas in the north and east of the country impose limits upon a flourishing agricultural sector. A relatively high number of people are infected with HIV / AIDS, comprising 6 percent of the adult population, but this share is no longer growing thanks to successful prevention. The country's problems are exacerbated by the large number of refugees from Sudan and Somalia living in Kenya, some of them for decades; around 500,000 people required care in the big refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma.


Kenya's small farmers: great diversity, enormous potential and a few challenges

The remaining social problems, especially in some poverty-stricken regions, stand in contrast to the great successes of recent years and to the great agricultural potential in other regions. Particularly in the Kenyan highlands, potato, wheat and rice fields thrive, as well as huge pineapple, coffee and tea plantations.


The country's agricultural potential of the country is very high, especially in western Kenya. The agricultural sector is the most important economic sector, accounting for around 33 percent of GDP, and offers employment and income opportunities for more than 70 percent of the population. Kenya is the world's largest exporter of black tea and a producer of high-quality Arabica coffee. The country exports cut flowers, fruit and vegetables to Europe, among other products. This labor-intensive export-driven agriculture also creates many jobs over relatively small amounts of space. However, there are also widespread environmental problems, as well as conflicts over fertile land, water and livestock.


75 percent of the food for the local market is produced by subsistence farmers. This means that many small farmers produce hardly any more than they need for themselves. Working small plots of land, typically no more than 3 hectares, they plant corn and vegetables and raise one or two cows, which often give less than two liters of milk a day. What little surplus food they produce is sold in traditional markets. If fluctuations in the weather result in increased rainfall, or none at all, the harvest will be even smaller, causing food prices to shoot up even higher.


NO MEAL WITHOUT UGALI Most Kenyans eat their beloved ugali and sukuma wiki every day, a corn starch mush with steamed leafy vegetables. The corn starch provides strength for physical labor and satisfies hungry stomachs. For many Kenyans, a meal without ugali is not a complete meal. The vegetable side dish sukuma wiki literally means "extend the week" in Swahili, as it is cheap and allows one to make ends meet.

Kenya's goal: Self-sufficiency

A Kenya without malnutrition is possible, of course.  It is clear to the Kenyan government that only by increasing productivity in the agricultural sector and increasing livestock farming and fishing will the country be able to provide for itself in the future, stimulate economic growth and create productive employment for millions of young people in rural areas. The government's Vision 2030 calls for developing Kenya's processing industry. Small farmers are to specialize in specific crops so as to improve their crop yields, as well as their ability to sell their crops. In addition, newly created farmland is to be prepared for cultivation.


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