Agriculture sector bounces back after two years of contraction

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) employee Shamir Misango showing agricultural experts from six African countries varieties of beans at Kakamega KALRO demonstration farm. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kenya’s agriculture sector recorded a 7 per cent recovery in 2023 after two consecutive years of contraction.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the bounce-back is attributed partly to government intervention through fertiliser subsidies and favourable weather conditions experienced across the country in 2023.

The sector bounced back from 0.3 per cent in 2021 to 2.3 per cent  in 2022 to the current 7 per cent.

Maize production increased by 38.8 per cent, from 34.3 million bags in 2022 to 47.6 million bags in 2023 while green leaf tea production rose from 2,418.2 thousand tonnes in 2022 to 2,577.8 thousand tonnes in 2023.

The value of marketed maize increased from Sh7.9 billion in 2022 to Sh11.3 billion in 2023 while the value of tea increased by 12.5 per cent from Sh156.7 billion in 2022 to Sh176.3 billion in 2023.

The improvement in the agriculture sector led to expansion of export of fresh horticultural produce by 9.9 per cent from 391.5 thousand tonnes in 2022 to 430.2 thousand tonnes in 2023.

The total earnings from marketed agricultural production rose from Sh567.6 billion to Sh628.5 billion recording a 10.7 per cent increase. The increase, according to the survey, was attributed to the high volume of horticulture exported to the international market.

“Earnings from cereals increased by 42.5 per cent to Sh49.1 billion in 2023. Similarly, earnings from horticulture recorded an upward trend from Sh147.1 billion in 2022 to Sh153.7 billion during the year under review,” the survey highlighted.

However, total sugar cane production declined from 8.8 million tonnes in 2022 to 5.6 million tonnes in 2023. Earnings from sugar cane declined by 24.7 per cent from Sh39.4 billion in 2022 to Sh29.6 billion in 2023.

Coffee production declined from 51.9 thousand tonnes in the 2021/22 crop year to 48.7 thousand tonnes in the 2022/23 crop year, a challenge which the survey linked it to Coffee Berry Disease. Earnings from coffee declined from Sh27.3 billion in 2022 to Sh19.9 billion in 2023.

“This reflected a 6.2 per cent decline, largely attributed to the Coffee Berry Disease,” the survey noted.

The earnings from permanent crops recorded a 6.1 per cent increase to Sh202.3 billion in 2023.

Earnings from dry pyrethrum flowers more than doubled from Sh236.0 million in 2022 to Sh512.4 million in 2023.

The increase in earnings from dry pyrethrum flowers, as per the survey, is attributed to higher production coupled with higher prices.

Production of beans increased by 15.7 per cent to 9.6 million bags in 2023, while production of potatoes and sorghum increased by 29.4 per cent and 72.2 per cent to 2.3 million tonnes and 2.2 million bags in 2023.

Millet production also recorded an increase of 42.9 per cent from 0.7 million bags in 2022 to 1 million bags in 2023.

During the period under review, the country imported 203,700 tonnes of wheat in 2023 following wheat production decrease by 16.1 per cent from 368,700 tonnes in 2022 to 309,500 tonnes in 2023.

The increase in wheat imports is largely attributed to the decreased local production.

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