This Friday, 26 April 2019, KCIC will be hosting a policy dialogue on the sustainability of agriculture in Kenya. Held in partnership with FES (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung), a German political foundation, the event will take place at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi. Issues to be discussed will include inclusivity in the value chain, climate smart agriculture, the future of work in the agricultural sector, and access to finance in the agricultural sector.
Agriculture as a driver of the Kenyan economy
Agriculture is the backbone of the Kenyan economy. In Kenya, agriculture contributes directly to 24% of the GDP and 27% indirectly. Over 50% of export earnings in Kenya come from agriculture, which is also the largest employer- accounting for 60% of total employment in the country. Another important thing to note is that 80% of the rural population in Kenya relies on agriculture.
What the statistics show is a sector that cannot be ignored. It is a fundamental pillar of the Kenyan economy, but over the years it has been affected by unstable prices, climate change and income inequalities in the value chain, among other issues.
Climate change threatens the sustainability of agriculture in Kenya
Agriculture is one of the sectors that has been worst hit by climate change. Agriculture is affected by extreme weather conditions, which is one of the ways climate change manifests itself. Climate change has compromised the earnings of the agricultural sector and affected the value chain as a whole.
Furthermore, commodity prices have been going down due to international competition, and in some instances, cartels have jeopardized the sector. The people that are most affected by this instability are those at the bottom of the pyramid- the producers. The returns are minimal, while the price of the final products remains high. Examples of this would be the industries of milk, fruits, and macadamia nuts, among others.
Goals for the policy dialogue on sustainability of agriculture in Kenya
Given the above mentioned issues plaguing a critical component of the Kenyan economy, KCIC and FES found it prudent to host a policy dialogue on the sustainability of agriculture in the country. The key focus for the dialogue will be issues such as:
- Inclusivity in the value chain: This will touch on the income inequalities in the value chain and how this has affected production in the agricultural sector. What are the emerging issues, the policies that exist, or gaps that need to be filled to tighten the agricultural sector?
- Climate Smart Agriculture: Kenya has been heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, and this is clearly not sustainable given the changes in weather patterns. How can adoption of technology work as a mitigation and adaptation strategy?
- The future of work in the agricultural sector: What will employment in the agricultural value chain look like, and what is the future of work in the area of mechanization?
- Access to finance in the agricultural sector: How does the small scale farmer access financing for expansion or for increased value in production?
The purpose of discussing the themes above will be to bring out the policy insights and recommendations on what a just transition in the agricultural sector in Kenya should look like. Policy dialogues such as these are one of the ways in which KCIC seeks to help our entrepreneurs. In addition to providing them such services as business advisory and access to finance, KCIC also understands the importance of engaging the public sector in encouraging the adoption of profitable local innovations. Thus, one of the aims of this policy dialogue is to help create a more enabling environment in which Kenyan agripreneurs can flourish.