Farming in Kenya

Farming in Kenya – Although less than eight per cent of Kenya’s land is under agriculture, farming is Kenya’s most important economic activity.

With most of Kenya’s land mass being arid or semi-arid, only about 20 per cent is suitable for farming.. About 80 per cent of Kenya’s work force engages in farming or food processing. Farming is typically carried out by small producers who usually cultivate no more than five acres using limited technology.

These small farms, operated by about three million families, account for 75 per cent of total production. Although there are still important large-scale coffee, tea,and sisal plantations, an increasing number of peasant farmers grow cash crops.

History of Farming in Kenya

From independence in 1963 to the oil crisis in 1973, the agricultural sector expanded by undergoing two basic changes: first,widespread acceptance of private ownership (replacing communal ownership) and cash crop farming; second, the success of intensive nationwide efforts to expand and upgrade the production of African smallholders.

Before World War II (1939-45)ended, agricultural development occurred almost exclusively in the“White Highlands”, an area of some 31,000 square kilometers allocated to immigrant white settlers and plantation companies.

Since independence, as part of a land consolidation and resettlement policy, the Kenya government,with financial aid from the United Kingdom, has gradually transferred large areas to African ownership.

European-owned farming remains generally large-scale and almost entirely commercial.

After the 1973 oil crisis, agricultural growth slowed as less untapped land became available. Government involvement in marketing, coupled with inefficient trade and exchange rate policies discouraged production during the 1970s.

Coffee production booms in the late 1970s and in 1986 have in the past temporarily helped the economy in its struggle away from deficit spending and monetary expansion. Although the expansion of agricultural export crops has been the most important factor in stimulating economic development,much agricultural activity is also directed toward providing food for domestic consumption. Kenya’s agriculture is sufficiently diversified to produce nearly all of the nation’s basic food. To some extent,Kenya also helps feed neighboring countries.

Agriculture in Kenya – The leading economic activity in Kenya

Agriculture has defied odds to emerge the leading economic sector after recording the highest growth in 2012. The sector expanded by 3.8 per cent, compared to a suppressed growth of 1.5 per cent in 2011.

The performance of various sub-sectors varied mainly on account of delayed long rains. In 2012, the long and short rains were erratic with some regions experiencing above normal rains while others received depressed rainfall.

During the period under review,agriculture value added at constant prices increased from Kshs 12 billion in 2011 to Kshs 323.9 billion in 2012.

In 2012, agriculture was the main contributor to Kenya’s economic growth of 4.6 per cent, up from 4.4 per cent in 2011. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2013 Economic Survey,agriculture, which grew by 3.8 percent, contributed 17.6 per cent of the overall Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

Economic growth was aided by easing inflation as favourable weather conditions resulted in the decline of food prices. Further,Agriculture is expected to post even higher growth rates due to good rains, thereby causing a ripple effect in the manufacturing and financial sectors.

Farming in Kenya – One million acres of land under irrigation

The Government hopes to roll out the infrastructure required to put one million acres of land under irrigation and build abattoirs in each county as contained in Jubilee’s manifesto. This grand plan that will move the country away from rain—fed agriculture would require billions of shillings.

The infrastructure is to help attract the private sector to move in and do the actual farming. Development partners are already helping with construction of abattoirs.

Apart from attracting the private sector, the Government plans to seek donor funding to ensure that its plans take off.


Farming in Kenya – Value addition

The Jubilee administration is banking on value addition in agriculture to create three million jobs in the next three years and to accelerate economic growth to seven per cent annually. The jobs are to be created in agribusiness, irrigation and food security initiatives.

In keeping With Vision 2030’s medium term plan, the Government plans to transform the agriculture sector to lower food costsand promote food security.

The Government is confident that by making farming a commercial activity, 70 per cent of Kenyans Will immediately generate improved earnings.

The 1.2 million acre Galana Irrigation Scheme at the Coast is the flagship project for improving food security and increasing production of maize and sugar.

Farming in Kenya – Legal reforms

The Government of Kenya has instituted a number of reforms to improve the sector’s efficiency and production. These include legal reforms in which some 130 laws were consolidated. This process is expected to encourage investment.

Revitalisation of agriculture,which was the focal point of the Agricultural Sector Development Conference of 2008, has largely been achieved.

The launch of the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy(ASDS) in June 2010 was among the key achievements as the development strategy is now the blueprint for agricultural planning in Kenya.

An enabling environment for farming has been created through the formulation and publication of several policy documents.

These include:

  1. The National Seed Industry Policy in 2011
  2. The National Food and Nutrition Policy
  3. The National Agricultural Extension Policy
  4. The National Horticulture

Policy Sessional Paper on Sugar Industry and the Seed and Plant Varieties Act (Cap 326).

  1. The National Agriculture Research Extension Policy
  2. The National Agribusiness Strategy and
  3. The National Agricultural Research System Policy

Other broad strategies being implemented by the agriculture sector ministries are seven flagship projects under Vision 2030. These include:

  1. Branding Kenyan farm products
  2. Establishment of disease-free zones and livestock processing facilities
  3. Creation of publicly accessible land registries
  4. Development of an agricultural land use masterplan and development of irrigation schemes. These changes have already improved yields.

On production, there has been significant in crease in the value of horticulture from Kshs 143 billion to Kshs 205 billion.

The value of tea rose from Kshs 43 billion to Kshs 109 billion, coffee Kshs 8.7 billion to Kshs 22 billion,maize Kshs 52 billion to Kshs 87.8 billion, beans Kshs 10 billion to Kshs 30.1 billion, sorghum Kshs 1.6 billion to Kshs 4.1 billion, sugar Kshs 12.4 billion to Kshs 18.6 billion)and Irish potatoes (Kshs 31.4 billion to Kshs 40.9 billion).

The increase in agricultural productivity and outputs was a combined result of:

  1. Improved extension service to reach three million farmers;
  2. Introduction of 28 new disease-resistant and high yielding crop varieties;
  3. Provision of 84,000 metric tonnes of clean planting materials through Traditional High Value crops project; and
  4. Provision of 274,000 metric tonnes of subsidised fertilisers to farmers through the National Cereals and Produce Board. This assistance has reached some 648,000 farmers since 2008.

Post-harvest losses were controlled through intensified surveillance of migratory pests and reduction in disease outbreaks;procurement of 35 mobile driers and the development of metal silo bins technology, which is being promoted for cereal farmers. These two have helped to reduce aflatoxin losses.

Farming in Kenya
Farming in Kenya

Farming in Kenya – Kilimo Biashara

Under the Kilimo Biashara public private sector partnership arrangement, Kshs 500 million guarantees by the Government was disbursed to four commercial banks, namely Equity, Family Finance, Cooperative and Kenya Women Finance.

The commercial banks increased credit to farmers, which in 2011 stood at Kshs53 billion. The Government has been promoting sustainable land use and invested KShs 1.2 billion to procure 22 bulldozers, two loaders, 85 farm tractors and 40 vehicles. A total of 317 earth dams were excavated.

Major reforms were also under-taken in the management of state corporations. As a result, the Agricultural Finance Corporation has increased its competitiveness and service delivery.

Farming in Kenya – Fertilizer in Kenya

An aggressive program  of providing subsidized fertilizer and seeds to poor farmers has been launched. Some 274,000 metric tonnes of assorted types of fertilizer worth Kshs12 billion was distributed under this project, significantly boosting production.

The net effect has been a lowering of fertilizer prices by more than 85 per cent. Last year, subsidized fertilizer cost Kshs2, 450 for a 50 kg bag, significantly lower than the Kshs 4, 600 charged by private dealers.

In a bid to reduce costs further,the Government plans to partner with the private sector to set up a fertilizer manufacturing plant in the country. Kenya spends about Kshs 80 billion annually on fertilizer imports.

The country has deposits of rock phosphate and other fertilizer raw materials. The phosphate deposits are at Mrima hills in the Coast region and Homa Bay hills in Nyanza.

Fertilizer usage in East Africa is expected to reach more than a million metric tonnes by the year 2020, which forms a good market for local manufacturers.

Farming in Kenya – Video

 Crop Farming in Kenya

1. Rice Farming in Kenya

Rice is Kenya’s third staple food after maize and wheat.   Rice Farming in Kenya is estimated at between 33,000 and 50,000 metric tonnes, while consumption is between 180,000 and 250,000 tonnes.

For further information visit: Rice Farming in Kenya

2.Wheat Farming in Kenya

Wheat is the second most important cereal grain in Kenya after maize. Wheat farming in Kenya is largely done for commercial purposes on a large-scale. Kenya is self-sufficient in the hard variety of wheat, but is a net importer of the softer variety.

For further information visit: Wheat Farming in Kenya

3.Maize Farming in Kenya

Maize Farming in Kenya – Maize is the staple food in Kenya.  Large as well as small-scale farmers produce the crop and a large percentage of the population depends on Maize farming as an income-generating crop.

For further information visit: Maize Farming in Kenya

Coffee Farming in Kenya

Coffee Farming in Kenya was first introduced in 1896 by the missionaries. Coffee is Kenya’s fourth leading foreign exchange earner after tourism, tea and horticulture. The Kenyan brand is known for its flavor and pleasant aroma. It is estimated that in Kenya 160,000 hectares are under coffee, 75.5 per cent of which is in the co-operative sub-sector and 24.5

For further information visit: Coffee Farming in Kenya

4.Bean Farming in Kenya

Beans farming in Kenya has received a boost after researchers at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) developed a new bean variety that is high yielding, thrives in areas with low rainfall and is resistant to pest and diseases.Beans farming in Kenya has received a boost after researchers at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) developed a new bean variety that is high yielding, thrives in areas with low rainfall and is resistant to pest and diseases.

For further information visit: Bean Farming in Kenya

5. Potato Farming in Kenya

About 35,000 hectares of potatoes are grown annually in Kenya. Potato farming In Kenya has high potential. Potato production has increased in recent years mainly due to growth in population and diversification of crops.

For further information visit:  Potato Farming in Kenya

6.Onion Farming in Kenya

Small scale onion farming in Kenya is gaining popularity. It is also becoming popular because it is affordable to start and its returns are high Onion farming in Kenya can be done in greenhouses and open gardens. The most commonly used onion is the bulb onion. It is locally consumed and available from roadside sellers to supermarkets.

For further information visit:Onion Farming in Kenya

7. Sunflower farming in Kenya

Sunflower Farming in Kenya does very well in arable semi arable conditions as it requires less rainfall and nutrients than maize.

For further information visit: Sunflower farming in Kenya

8. Pumpkin farming in Kenya

Pumpkin Farming in Kenya is amazing. Pumpkin provide food from every part of their physiology. The fleshy fruit is great for boiling, baking or for thickening soup. The seeds are delicious when dry roasted with a sprinkling of salt, and the young leaves and flowers provide a perfect alternative to sukuma wiki (kales).

For further information visit: Pumpkin farming in Kenya

9. Growing Aloe vera in Kenya

Aloe vera in Kenya is a succulent plant species that is found only under farming, having no naturally occurring populations, although closely related aloes do occur in northern Africa.

For further information visit: Growing Aloe vera in Kenya

10.Barley farming in Kenya

Barley Farming in Kenya – Barley is a member of the grass family and is a major cereal grain. Important uses of Barley use  in Kenya include use as animal fodder, as a source of ferment-able material for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods. The grains are commonly made into malt in a traditional and ancient method of preparation.

For further information visit: Barley farming in Kenya

11.Banana farming in Kenya

Banana Farming in Kenya: Varieties found in Kenya are ‘Muraru’, ‘Kiganda’, ‘Sukari’ among others and they are adopted to various agro-ecological zones. They can be eaten as dessert or cooked.

For further information visit: Banana farming in Kenya

12.Tomato farming in Kenya

Every farmer looks for tricks to better tomato farming in Kenya. Most Kenyan farmers started with tomato farms having been told of the huge profits in the market. The truth sometimes is hard to bear as a lot of us, small scale farmers  have lost fortunes in tomato farming Kenya .

For further information visit: Tomato farming in Kenya

13.Cabbages farming in Kenya

Cabbages Farming in Kenya –  Cabbage is a common vegetable that grows especially well in fertile and well-drained soils. The increasing demand for vegetables has contributed to the growing popularity of this crop, particularly in the urban areas. For the grower keen on maximizing cabbage production, knowledge of major cabbage pests and diseases and their control is essential.

For further information visit:  Cabbages farming in Kenya

14.Strawberry farming in kenya

Strawberries have emerged as some of the sought after fruits in the Kenyan market prompting many farmers to venture into the business and establish strawberry farms in Kenya with the hopes of earning from it.

For further information visit: Strawberry farming in kenya

15.Watermelon farming in Kenya

Watermelon farming in Kenya is what is behind the fruit known for being juicy and sweet. Known to reduce stress by researchers watermelons have benefits like reducing fatigue.  Potassium, Vitamin C, lycopene and iron found in watermelon drives away any feeling of fatigue you may experience. It is a nutritious fruit. It is low in calories and has no fat , this makes it an ideal diet fruit.

For further information visit: Watermelon farming in Kenya

16. Cashew Nuts Farming in Kenya

Cashew Nuts Farming in Kenya: Cashew Nuts are grown in Coast Province of Kenya. The country produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of the nuts valued at Sh264.9 million. Kenya has a potential to produce more than 63,000 metric tonnes valued at Sh1 billion. The sub-sector has the potential to create employment through value addition and fetch the exchequer billions of shillings through exports.

For further information visit: Cashew Nuts Farming in Kenya

17.Tobacco Farming in Kenya

Tobacco Farming in Kenya – Tobacco is mostly grown in south Nyanza of Kenya  where the land under cultivation has increased rapidly and often at the expense of the traditional food crops and livestock activities.

For further information visit: Tobacco Farming in Kenya 

18.Cotton in Kenya

Cotton Farming in Kenya: Cotton in Kenya is grown in Nyanza, Western, Coast, Central, Eastern and Rift Valley regions, largely under rain-fed conditions. Cotton in Kenya is mainly grown by small-scale farmers in marginal and arid areas on small land holdings averaging about a hectare. It is estimated that Kenya has 200,000 small-scale farmers.

For further information visit: Cotton in Kenya

19.Pyrethrum in Kenya

Pyre-thrum Farming in Kenya:- Kenya is the world’s largest producer and exporter of pyre-thrum, a flower that contains a substance used in pesticides. The pyre-thrum extract, known as pyre-thrum is derived from the flower’s petals.

For further information visit: Pyrethrum in Kenya

20.Finger millet farming in Kenya

Finger millet farming in Kenya is an important agricultural activity in Western Kenya and Uganda. Finger millet can be stored for as long as ten years without use of insecticides. It has small seeds which dry out quickly and insects cannot fit inside them.

For further information visit: Finger millet farming in Kenya

21. Bulrush millet farming in Kenya.

Pearl/Bulrush millet is one of the small cereal crops. Bulrush millet farming in Kenya is carried out in areas such as lower parts of Meru, Kirinyaga and Embu counties. It is also cultivated in the Kerio Valley and in some parts of Machakos. In these areas, bulrush millet farming is usually grown during the short rains.

For further information visit: Bulrush millet farming in Kenya.

22.Horticulture Farming in Kenya

Horticulture farming in Kenya refers to an intensive cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers for sale. At times the term has been confused with market gardening which is an intensive cultivation of vegetables and fruits for sale in the nearest urban center.

For further information visit: Horticulture Farming in Kenya

23.Passion Fruit Farming in Kenya

Passion Fruit Farming in Kenya – Do you know that Passion fruit is the third most popular fruit in Kenya after  mangoes and bananas respectively.

For further information visit: Passion Fruit Farming in Kenya

24.Pawpaw farming in Kenya

Pawpaw Farming in Kenya is done in tropical and subtropical climates and pawpaw plants do not tolerate freezing temperatures. Papayas fruits are delicious and grow throughout the year. These fruits are eaten alone or in salad without the skin. The papaws fruits are low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin A and C.

For further information visit: Pawpaw farming in Kenya

25.Garlic (kitunguu saumu) farming in Kenya

Garlic farming in Kenya requires well tilled, well drained soil. Unlike most vegetables, garlic (Kitunguu saumu) is generally planted in the late fall. It is usually reserved for traditional vegetable gardens. Garlic can be grown in containers. However, many containers would be needed if more than a few heads of garlic were desired.

For further information visit: Garlic (kitunguu saumu) farming in Kenya

26.Mango farming in Kenya

Mango Farming in Kenya requires time and patience. Most newly planted mango trees will produce fruit in approximately 5 years.

For further information visit: Mango farming in Kenya

27. Capsicum Farming in Kenya

Capsicum (called pilipili hoho in Kenya) are a hardy type of plant. It is rarely attacked by diseases or pests though it still needs proper preventive care. Capsicum farming in Kenya does best in hot areas the likes of the greater Eastern Province, Coastal region, temperate central areas etc.

For further information visit: Capsicum Farming in Kenya

28.Mushroom Farming in Kenya

Kenya has developed a mushroom variety suited for warm weather, opening a new revenue stream for Mushroom Farming in Kenya. The button type is also resistant to fungal and bacterial diseases. Scientists at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology – Institute of Biotechnology Research (IBR), have studied soils and found that the warm October – March season is ideal for growing the new variety,agaricus bitorquis. It grows at 25 degrees Celsius above other varieties.

For further information visit: Mushroom Farming in Kenya

29.Greenhouse farming in Kenya.

Greenhouse farming in Kenya is a type of farming where plants are grown in a covered structure with PVC  paper on the roof for ventilation purposes, a net-like material is used on the sides. This makes sure that the air circulation is good. This type of structure is used to create a conducive environment for the plants to grow. It aims at controlling the conditions that determine crop productivity such a sunlight, temperature, rainfall etc. This makes the crops immune to weather fluctuations.

For further information visit: Greenhouse farming in Kenya.

30.Sugarcane in Kenya

Sugarcane Farming in Kenya supports over 200,000 small – scale farmers in Kenya. In addition, an estimated six million Kenyans derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from the sugar industry. Domestic production of sugar saves the country about Kshs 45 billion in foreign exchange.

For further information visit: Sugarcane in Kenya

31. Floriculture – Flowers in Kenya

Flower Farming in Kenya – Kenya is the largest supplier of cut flowers to the European Union. In Africa, it is one of the most prominent fresh flower exporting countries. Flower farming in Kenya is the most developed sector and accounts for about 40 per cent of all horticultural exports. It is dominant around Lake Naivasha and in Kinangop, Nakuru, Limuru, Athi River, Thika, Kiambu and Eldoret.

For further information visit: Floriculture – Flowers in Kenya

32. Horticulture in Kenya

Horticulture farming in Kenya refers to an intensive cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers for sale. At times the term has been confused with market gardening which is an intensive cultivation of vegetables and fruits for sale in the nearest urban center.

For further information visit: Horticulture in Kenya

33.Irrigation in Kenya

Irrigation in Kenya has a long history spanning more than 400 years. Records show that irrigation has been practiced for many years along the lower River Tana and in Keiyo, Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo regions.

For further information visit: Irrigation in Kenya

Livestock Farming in Kenya

1. Cattle farming in Kenya

There are various reasons why a person might engage in cattle farming in Kenya. Some raise large herds to sell, others, in the case of dairy, raise them to sell their milk. Many raise cattle to show in fairs and other local events. In today’s economy, many families are deciding to raise cattle for their personal use. Whether you want to have a few head for your family’s needs or raise a herd to sell, there are a few basics about how to raise cattle; from purchasing land to selecting the cattle you want to raise.

For further information visit: Cattle farming in Kenya

2. Poultry farming in Kenya

There are many types of poultry farming in Kenya where one can earn a decent living. Embarking on chicken farming is a good profitable idea This article will talk more about poultry farming in Kenya.

For further information visit: Poultry farming in Kenya

3.Pig farming in Kenya

Pig farming in Kenya is  considered to be one of the most lucrative business ventures in Kenya. Pig farmers in Kenya have reaped quite attractive profits from pig farming. Pigs can be raised both in small or large scale commercial venture for providing food and nutrition to the family and for the country or for commercial purposes.

For further information visit: Pig farming in Kenya

4.Beef Farming in Kenya

Beef farming in Kenya is a type of livestock keeping which involves rearing of cattle for production of meat. Beef cattle therefore refer to cattle raised for meat rather than milk. The major world exporters of beef are Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. United States of America and Europe have considerable production of beef for their high local demand.

For further information visit: Beef Farming in Kenya

5.Fish Farming in Kenya

Fish products provide high protein diet and contribute to improved nutrition and health of communities living in the rural areas where fish is the main protein supply.

For further information visit: Fish Farming in Kenya

6.Duck farming in Kenya

Duck farming in Kenya is very popular and a lucrative business. Incidentally, all hen of the world comes from red wild hen, which scientific name is garaus banbinda. Everyone knows that duck is an aquatic organism. Duck without water and pond without fish are considered as same.

For further information visit: Duck farming in Kenya

7. Quail Farming in Kenya

Quail Farming in Kenya is a highly valued activity and quail eggs are greatly valued for their pricey meat and eggs and their proven medicinal value.  Quails are considered a wild animal and thus farmers must apply for a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)  before they start keeping them.

For further information visit: Quail Farming in Kenya

8. Peacock farming in Kenya

Peacock farming in Kenya is not a new idea. From the additional time, people like eggs and birds meat to their list of food. People raise various species of birds for meat, eggs, and beauty. One can be financially benefited by poultry birds farming. People want to keep birds to their control for food, hobbies and entertainment.

For further information visit: Peacock farming in Kenya

9.Dairy goat farming in Kenya

Dairy goat farming in Kenya is emerging as a high-return option for Kenyan small-scale farmers, although it remains hobbled in some regions by marketing and distribution challenges, even as the sector soars in other nearby regions.

For further information visit:  Dairy goat farming in Kenya

10. Beekeeping in Kenya

Bee Farming in Kenya – Traditionally honey in Kenya was collected from wild bees in forests. Honey has been very popular with many people in Kenya. This has necessitated beekeeping in Kenya. The science of bee farming is known as apiculture.

For further information visit: Beekeeping in Kenya

11. Sheep farming in Kenya

Sheep Farming in Kenya – Some of farmers in Kenya have started scaling down sheep farming in Kenya and increasing the stock of cows despite the increase in the price of wool over the past one year.

For further information visit: Sheep farming in Kenya

12.Rabbits farming in Kenya

For a long time, rabbit farming in Kenya has not been taken seriously. In many African societies, rabbits are considered as pets for young boys. This is however not the case as farmers can now make good money rearing rabbits. We set out to find out more about rabbit farming in Kenya.

For further information visit: Rabbits farming in Kenya

13.Dairy Farming in Kenya

Dairy Farming in Kenya 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 parts of Kenya. 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%. There are two types of dairy farming in Kenya, namely:-

For further information visit: Dairy Farming in Kenya

14.Ranching in Kenya

Ranching in Kenya is a livestock production enterprise where a group jointly owns freehold title to land and herd their livestock collectively though they own it individually. Selection of members to ranches in Kenya was based on kinship and traditional land rights.

For further information visit: Ranching in Kenya

15.Camels in Kenya

Ranching in Kenya is a livestock production enterprise where a group jointly owns freehold title to land and herd their livestock collectively though they own it individually. Selection of members to ranches in Kenya was based on kinship and traditional land rights.

For further information visit: Camels in Kenya

16. Livestock farming in Kenya

Livestock Farming in Kenya contributes four per cent of GDP and comprises mainly dairy and meat production, eggs, hides, skins and wool from cows, sheep, goats and poultry.

For further information visit: Livestock farming in Kenya

Farms in Kenya