Agriculture can be revolutionary, it’s no wonder that in 2017, the economy of Morocco grew by a whopping 4.8 percent on the back of a strong recovery in its agriculture sector-that’s according to the 2017 Economic Survey report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Kenya’s agriculture industry has the same potential to help drive the country towards double-digit economic growth.
However, the 2017 Economic Survey report indicates a drop in growth in production in the sector from 4.6 percent to 1.6 percent in 2016. The main reason for this was adverse weather conditions; with the country experiencing decreased long rains accompanied a short-rains period that ended earlier than usual.
Key crops such as maize, wheat, rice, and sugarcane dropped in production while livestock suffered the brunt of the drought with pastoralists in semi-arid counties like Turkana, Marsabit and Samburu losing large parts of their flock. On February 10th 2017, Kenyan government declared the drought affecting 23 counties as a national disaster.
Maize and vegetable prices rose significantly with maize prices hitting a high of sh5, 849 per 90-kilogramme bag according to data from the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (Ratin).Additionally, production of tea and coffee dropped by 7 percent and 11.5 percent respectively.
In the dairy industry, the amount of milk that farmers delivered to processors in 2017 decreased to 535.7 million litres, from 648.2 million litres in 2016. On the other hand, despite the harsh weather, food crops such as beans, potatoes, and certain cereals improved in performance, in turn lessening the impact of the shortage and price surge of the other crops. Therefore, as a whole, the total value of agricultural products sold increased to sh446.9 billion in 2017 versus sh413.3 billion in 2016.
The country earned sh135.6 billion from the sale of livestock and its related products in 2017, sh134.8 billion from tea and sh115.3 billion from horticulture. In particular, cut flowers exports stood out of the pack with sh82.2 billion in earnings, while fruits and vegetable exports also registered significant growth in the year.
In regards to providing employment, compared to the entire private sector, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector still retained its title as the largest provider of wage employment, hiring about a sixth of the private sector’s labour force.