Transform Kenya through agriculture

Robert Toroitich, a worker at Uasin Gishu County Government’s Agriculture and Agribusiness department tends to cabbages

Robert Toroitich, a worker at Uasin Gishu County Government’s Agriculture and Agribusiness department tends to cabbages at their exhibition stand, at the Agricultural Society of Kenya, Eldoret National Show on February 28, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Growing up in the 1980s through to the 1990s, we memorised the phrase, “agriculture is the backbone of the Kenyan economy”. This statement was further reinforced by the green colour on our national flag. I am not sure where we lost it as a country.

According to The Kenya Monetary Policy Committee Agriculture Sector Survey of July 2022, the agriculture sector continues to play a critical role in Kenya's economy, accounting for 20 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The sector also employs over 40 per cent of the total population and more than 70 per cent of the rural populace. It is also notable that Kenya is a youthful country, according to the 2019 census results which showed that 75 per cent of the Kenyans were under the age of 35.

The Ministry of Agriculture, in its own parameters, places the average age of a farmer at 60 against a life expectancy of 65. The questions here are, how do we power an economy, and create jobs and wealth when the largest population does not take part in the making of a stable economy?

The effort needs to be put in to engage the youth through agriculture. Kenya is endowed with an energetic, talented, and creative young population.

Vision 2030

Engaging this population in agricultural value chains will improve food security and reduce youth unemployment. Kenya’s Vision 2030 aims to create a globally competitive and prosperous nation.

Agriculture is one of the sectors expected to sustain a 10 per cent economic growth into 2030. Deliberately focusing and driving youth to agriculture, and providing the necessary innovative spaces will help tackle youth unemployment.

From the Kenya Kwanza plan, its first pillar - Agricultural Transformation and Inclusive Growth, states: “Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy, contributing half of Kenya’s GDP, a quarter directly and another quarter indirectly. Two-thirds of Kenyans derive either all or part of their incomes from agriculture.

Agriculture thus remains the foundation of the economy.” Agriculture has the highest employment multiplier effect. For example; agricultural growth creates more jobs in other sectors than in any other sector. 

The Kenya Kwanza government, through its manifesto, committed to, among others, provide adequate affordable working capital to farmers; deploy modern agricultural risk management instruments that ensure farming is profitable and income is predictable, transforming two million poor farmers from a food deficit to surplus producers through input finance and agricultural extension support, raise the productivity of key-value food chains and other value chains and revamp under-performing and collapsed export crops. Implementing the Kenya Kwanza plan while engaging the youth will be a big score towards powering our economy.

Kelvin Keya, Vihiga


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