NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – The World bank has urged the Kenyan government to focus on enhancing productivity and commercialization in agriculture to deal with the sector’s woes.
In its latest Kenya Economic Update, the apex bank noted the country’s agriculture sector is central to GDP growth, employment, and poverty reduction, but productivity growth and value addition of the sector have been elusive.
“Increasing productivity of cereals and enabling them access to irrigation, better quality inputs (seeds, fertilizers, and others) and improved extension services is critical to the sector’s recovery,” the World bank noted.
For the livestock subsector, it noted that alleviating constraints in livestock productivity will involve mechanisms to cope with drought, allied with improved access to basic infrastructure, pasture, feed and extension services.
Further, the government was tasked to support a number of interventions in small-scale irrigation.
“The priority should be to rehabilitate viable and sustainable irrigation schemes, focusing on small to medium-scale schemes with the best prospects for success, regardless of whether they are located in the arid and semi-arid lands” noted the lender.
World bank urged the private sector to invest in the sector more widely noting that various private investors have successfully expanded growth in key agricultural sub-sectors such as cut flowers, horticulture, dairy, tea, and agricultural input markets, amply demonstrating their potential.
Finally, the government was urged to consider divestiture or subdivision of large farms on which much land is unused or under-used to improve tenure security, land use and development, and sustainable conservation of the environment
Yields for major crops in Kenya have stagnated well below peers – Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, driven by shortage of quality inputs, credit, extension services, and low investments in irrigation and rural roads.
Meanwhile, less than 5 per cent of Kenyan agriculture is irrigated, and the sector has suffered from increasing variability in rainfall.
In the second quarter of 2022, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics(KNBS) data shows that the agriculture sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP contracted for the third consecutive quarter.
This was attributed to unfavourable weather conditions that characterized the last quarter of 2021 and the first half of 2022.
The World bank recommendations provide a roadmap to recovering the sector’s lost glory.