Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of Africa

Regional Variations and Conditions for Agriculture in Kenya

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of Africa

Regional Variations and Conditions for Agriculture in Kenya

Article excerpt


In Kenya, agricultural performance in the first two decades after independence (1963-1986) was widely regarded as good. According to Poulton and Kanyingi (2014), the strong performance of the sector was attributed to effective agricultural institutions and extension service that provided services to producers. Both were state sponsored. The period mid-1980s and 1990s witnessed government led reforms (under the influence of the Structural Adjustment Programme of the World Bank) in the agricultural sector. The reforms were to pave way for market-based economy where farm input distribution was largely in the hands of the private sector (Brook 2014). Apparently, the reform period coincided with a decline in the overall agricultural growth. It became apparent for the government agricultural technocrats that the reforms had not worked well for the sector - triggering policy reforms in the agriculture sector. At a national level, the Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA) and Vision 2030 - policy documents of the government of Kenya were in place in the years 2003 and 2008 respectively. At the international level, there was the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). Both initiatives underscored collaboration between the public and private sector and increasing agricultural productivity (Brook 2014; Kibaara et al., 2009). Although implementation of these reforms faced challenges (Poulton & Kanyingi 2014), there is evidence that they bore results for some crops and for the livestock sector (Kibaara et al., 2009; Republic of Kenya 2015a). Improvement in agricultural production (for some crops) in the first decade of the 21st century was attributed to increased use of fertilizer, increased adoption of high yielding seed varieties and increased density of fertilizer retail outlets (Kibaara et al., 2009). Indeed, these are a demonstration that parts of the cornerstone programmes and policies in the agricultural sector mentioned above, have been implemented effectively.

Despite the achievements, there are concerns that the national level narrative in the implementation of these policies and programmes ignored the important regional agro-ecological and socio-economic variations that characterize Kenya (Brook, 2014; Radeny & Bulte, 2011). This is best reflected in two ways. First, the variables of famine (these are production, market access, and response failure) are omnipresent in Kenya as articulated by Devereux (2009). As a result, cases of famine in one part of the country and lack of market for farm produce and post-harvest loses in the other part are frequently reported in Kenya. Secondly, productivity of crops and livestock is highly varied at regional levels. Food security can be sustained through boosting local and regional agricultural productivity (Ogundari & Awokuse, 2016). Against this background, the aim of the study was to examine the regional variations and conditions for agriculture and food security. Specifically, the study will discuss the distribution of crops and livestock in Kenya, constraints and opportunities in the agriculture sector, and agricultural policy arrangement in Kenya.

2. Methods

2.1.The Study Area

Kenya is located in East Africa and has a total area of 580 370 km2. Administratively, the country is subdivided into 47 counties following the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. The altitude of the country significantly varies with the high points being Mt. Kenya and the Rift Valley, while the low altitude areas are North Eastern, South Eastern and Coastal areas. The country's climatology is highly varied especially in terms of annual rainfall distribution and temperature. Rainfall is bimodal with March to May and October to December rainfall season (Kisaka et al., 2015). Kenya's rainfall is mainly influenced by sea surface temperatures of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean (Mutai et al. …

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