This policy brief aims to raise awareness on the status, challenges and opportunities of the agriculture and Irrigation sector towards Kenya’s economic growth. Despite various efforts being undertaken by Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, poverty and food insecurity is still severe. For the last decade, and especially this year, agriculture production has been inadequate to meet the needs of growing population. As a result, Kenya has experienced several food shortages.

Status of Agriculture 

The Sector plays a key role in accelerating economic development through enhancing food security; income generation; employment; foreign exchange earnings; and backward linkages with other priority sectors of the economy. The sector accounted for about 30.0 per cent of GDP and 22.0 per cent of growth in GDP in 2015 (KNBS, 2016). 


Kenya’s agriculture sector is dominated by smallholder farmers in rural areas, making it an important sector in food security and poverty reduction.

Jubilee government has identified food security through agriculture as one pillar to achieve by 2022. 

The allocation to this sector is expected to increase by 1.5 percent in FY 2018/19 and by 4.5 percent over the medium-term to cater for fertilizer subsidy initiative, and support to small-holder agricultural irrigation by constructing large-scale dams. The Sector has been allocated Ksh 38.981 billion, Ksh 41.842 billion and Ksh 43.802 billion for the financial years 2018/2019, 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 respectively.  

With the enactment of the Constitution in 2010, most of the sector’s functions were devolved to the county government, with the role of national government as stipulated in Schedule 4 being the development of agricultural policy and veterinary policy.  


Over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture has increased the vulnerability of agriculture to weather shocks, with extreme events such as drought becoming more frequent. 

Agricultural productivity has more or less remained the same over the last decade, and public expenditure has stagnated at an estimated two per cent of total government spending.

Most counties are having challenges in fulfilling their constitutional mandate due to lack of over-arching policies to guide policy formulation at county level. Moreover, the national government has continued to participate in functions that have been devolved to the counties, resulting in conflict of interest.

Policy recommendation 

Improving access to inputs and credit – The government should establish agro-dealer development to make it easy farmers to access inputs at low prices and also at credit

To promote growth of the agro-processing sector (coffee and tea), the Government needs to make the recommendation a reality and move from just giving promises. 

There is need to increase investments in the sector, especially in agricultural research, irrigation, rehabilitate existing dams and development of rural infrastructure (feeder roads storage and markets).

 Need for ministry to promote crop diversification through supporting the new crop verities developed out of research and development. 

Strengthen the capacity of the counties to implement their constitutional obligations; the central government should develop a blue print with well stated functions of each.  

Mose Naftaly

SCS - Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation