Agriculture and Rural Development

General Framework

The agricultural sector shapes the economy and living conditions of Kenyans – roughly 30% of the GDP can be directly attributed to the agricultural sector; informally it amounts to a much higher percentage. About 70% of the population in the rural areas lives from agricultural commodities, which are up to 98% dependent on rainfall. This leads to extreme vulnerability to climatic shocks. Productivity is low and mainly determined by rainfall or access to water. More than 80% of the land area is arid or semi-arid and unsuitable for rain-fed agriculture. High population growth leads to reduction of farm land and to the agricultural use of fragile ecosystems such as watersheds and steep slopes, which accelerates the soil erosion. Degradation of watersheds and inappropriate agricultural management increases the pressure on available water resources. Due to the low performance of the agricultural sector, there is a structural food deficit.

The biggest challenge for the agricultural sector is the implementation of new laws in the constitution towards devolution, which shifts about 90% of the tasks and responsibilities to the county level. For the early stage of devolution it is fair to assume an imbalance between recurrent and development funding at the county level as allocated resources do not allow for any significant investment. However, the priority policy objectives of the national government, such as an extensive expansion in irrigation, can only be realized in cooperation with the devolved level. Not supportive to the implementation of this comprehensive sector reform agenda, is the fact that the agricultural sector overall in terms of the Maputo commitment (10% household), is significantly underfunded.

Objective and Approach of German Development Cooperation

German development support focuses on balanced and enhanced food security through a sustainable increase in productivity in the agricultural sector in the western parts of the country and strengthening the drought resilience in the arid north. The former is, for example, promoted by irrigation projects with integrated marketing infrastructure (markets, storage, rural road construction), water and soil conservation as well as capacity-building for agricultural training and extension services or improved market integration of small-scale farmers through collaboration with the private sector. In the arid north, irrigation infrastructure, soil and water conservation, water provision for human and animal health as well as pasture rehabilitation and support to improved animal health are to be promoted.

Finally, the devolution process is accompanied by advisory services at both national and decentralized level. Thus, the five counties in western and northern Kenya, in which the German support is focussing on, will be supported in developing agriculture sector investment plans and in the prioritization of measures for a sustainable intensification of agriculture.

Examples: What are the achievements?

The previous agriculture programme of German Development Cooperation contributed significantly to private sector development

The focus on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial interest has generated significant effects on income and employment (e.g. own share of farmers to finance small-scale irrigation, creation of cooperatives for various value chains). The application of a market-oriented value chain approach has led to successful models in the promotion of selected value chains (e.g. potato). For this purpose, necessary concepts, tools and methods were systematically anchored in the Kenyan Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery Policies indicating the institutional acceptance and integration of this very approach. At the policy level, the value chain promotion has become a central part of agricultural policy making.

A specific type of small-scale irrigation models with a significant financial participation of the beneficiaries as well as involvement of Kenyan banks for further financial support in the Mount Kenya region is considered to be a model of best-practice which is planned to be integrated into the Irrigation Policy.

Furthermore, Germany supported the expansion of rural roads in the Mount Kenya region, thereby improving market infrastructure and agricultural trade as a better market access for small-scale farmers enhanced the general economic development in the region.


KfW irrigation scheme

Factsheet: Agriculture and Rural Development