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Agricultural sector grows by 6.2 per cent to become economy's biggest booster

By Dominic Omondi | May 4th 2016

Agriculture was the biggest driver of the country's growth in 2015 stamping its position as the economy's back-bone.

According to the Economic Survey 2016, improved production in maize, fresh horticultural produce, marketed milk, wheat and rice saw the sector's gross value addition improve from 3.5 per cent in 2014 to 6.2 per cent in 2015. Now, agriculture accounts for 30 per cent of the total national gross domestic product.

The growth was attributed to the abundant rainfall characterised by El Nino.

"The agriculture sub-sector grew by 6.2 per cent in 2015 and considerably influenced the performance of the whole sector," the survey reads. Maize production increased from 39 million bags in 2014 to 42.5 million bags in 2015 in what was attributed to adequate rainfall and reduced incidences of maize lethal necrosis disease.

However, not much of this maize, a valuable food crop for most Kenyans, was sold to Kenyans. According to the survey, this was due to lower prices offered to farmers and this saw the value of maize in the market drop by 11.4 per cent from Sh9.6 billion in 2014 to Sh8.5 billion in 2015.

The value of horticultural produce, including cut flowers, vegetables and fruits improved from Sh84.1 billion in 2014 to Sh90.4 billion in 2015 due to higher units prices for vegetables and higher volumes of fruits exported.

Although tea production dropped by 10.3 per cent, the cash crop fetched better prices in the world market as international prices improved. The value of the crop, which remains the country's top foreign exchange earner, increased by 39.5 per cent to Sh118.4 billion in the period under review.

Just like tea, coffee production fell by 16 per cent in 2015.  Deliveries of sugar cane to factories rose by 4.6 per cent from 6.5 million tonnes in 2014 to 6.8 million tonnes in 2015. However, value addition in the sector, although rising, is still dismal.

Agriculture value addition rose from 3.5 per cent in 2014 to 6.2 per cent in 2015. As it stands, the country still exports most of its produce, including coffee and tea as raw materials.

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