Over 75 per cent of Kenya’s estimated 43 million people inhabit rural areas, where around half of the population lives in poverty (as of 2009). Arid and semi-arid lands make up more than 80 per cent of the country’s land mass and are home to approximately 36 per cent of its population. These areas have the highest incidence of poverty.
The agriculture sector remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, employing 80 per cent of the rural population and accounting for about 65 per cent of exports. Kenya also has one of the largest and most developed dairy sectors in sub-Saharan Africa. It accounts for about 4 per cent of GDP and grows 4 per cent annually.
Kenya became a low-middle-income country in 2014. Its economic growth is expected to continue at an annual average rate of 5.9 per cent over the next five years. However, poverty and income inequality remain persistent challenges. Approximately 10 million Kenyans suffer from chronic food insecurity and poor nutrition.
Rural poverty remains high due to population growth – the national population has more than tripled over the past 30 years – and dependence on rapidly depleting natural resources. The degradation of natural resources hits women the hardest, as they assume greater responsibility for providing their families with food, water and fuelwood.
The agriculture sector, which contributes over 25 per cent of annual GDP, is also threatened by the changing climate. If this is not addressed, its economic costs are estimated at 3 per cent of GDP per year by 2030, and could reach 5 per cent by 2050.
Nearly all the country’s crop production is rainfed, and almost half of animal production occurs in arid and semi-arid lands. The growing impact of drought and unreliable rainfall are expected to significantly constrain the sector.
Kenya’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030, was launched in 2008. It was designed to guide the nation’s transformation into an industrialized, middle-income country.
The country’s agricultural development strategy for 2010-2020 aims to achieve agricultural growth of 7 per cent annually and reduce food insecurity by 30 per cent. The Government and IFAD believe that improving people’s access to key staple cereals can help to reduce poverty and food insecurity.
In Kenya, IFAD loans provide support to smallholders and value chain actors (agro-dealers, private extension services, small traders, processors, etc.) in the dairy sector and cereal value chains. They also improve access to rural financial services.
The country strategic opportunities programme for 2013-2018 has three strategic objectives:
- improved natural resource management that is gender-responsive, climate-resilient, sustainable and community-based;
- improved access to assets, technologies and services for vulnerable rural women, men and young people in target areas;
- enhanced, sustainable access to markets for smallholder farmers, agropastoralists and rural entrepreneurs.
In the past, IFAD activities concentrated on rural areas with medium to high productive potential, where most of Kenya's poor people live.
Under our new strategy, we are extending support to the country's arid and semi-arid lands. This shift supports the government's commitment to improve small-scale irrigation, extension services, marketing and access to financial services in areas with high poverty rates. The emphasis is on a market-oriented approach in the sectors of horticulture, dairy production, cereal commodities and rural finance.
The agriculture sector remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, employing 80 per cent of the rural population and accounting for about 65 per cent of export earnings.
Kenya has one of the largest and most developed dairy sectors in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for about 4 per cent of GDP and growing 4 per cent annually. Over 1 million smallholder farmers depend on dairying for their livelihoods.
Since 1979, IFAD has invested a total of US$336.3 million in 18 programmes and projects in Kenya, with a total cost of US$676.0 million, benefiting about 4.3 million poor rural households.