2015/16 Yearbook Agriculture


The value of exports of fresh horticultural produce increased from Kshs84.1 billion in 2014 to Kshs90.4 billion in 2015. The value of tea increased by 39.5 per cent to Kshs118.4 billion in 2015, as a result of improved international prices. However, earnings from coffee sales decreased from Kshs16.6 billion in 2014 to Kshs12.1 billion in 2015

All aspects of agriculture in the country continue to thrive. Overall, total value of marketed production at current prices increased by 11.3 per cent from Kshs333.2 billion in 2014 to Kshs371.0 billion in 2015.

Total earnings from crop sales increased by 15.5 per cent to Kshs271.8 billion in 2015. Wheat earnings increased from Kshs7.6 billion in 2014 to Kshs8.2 billion in 2015.

However, the value of marketed maize declined by 11.4 per cent from Kshs9.6 billion in 2014 to Kshs8.5 billion in 2015, mainly due to lower prices paid to farmers.

Earnings from cane deliveries increased by 5.5 per cent to Kshs21.4 billion in 2015.

The value of exports of fresh horticultural produce increased from Kshs84.1 billion in 2014 to Kshs90.4 billion in 2015.

The value of tea increased by 39.5 per cent to Kshs118.4 billion in 2015, as a result of improved international prices. However, earnings from coffee sales decreased from Kshs16.6 billion in 2014 to Kshs12.1 billion in 2015.

The value of marketed milk rose from Kshs18.8 billion in 2014 to Kshs20.7 billion in 2015.

To further enhance earnings from agriculture, the Government has been striving to create a conducive environment for value addition to agricultural produce as a catalyst to boost the country’s economy.

However, erratic climatic patterns have been a challenge to development in agriculture. To counter this, boosting irrigation and curbing destruction and losses occasioned by floods have been prioritised. In the 2015-2016 budget, the National Treasury allocated Kshs13.8 billion to fast track the implementation of various irrigation projects in the country.

The National Irrigation Board received Kshs10.3 while the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme got Kshs3.5 billion. Some Kshs3 billion was allocated for inputs subsidy, Kshs2.7 billion for strategic grain reserves, Kshs3.1 billion for fisheries development while Kshs0.6 billion was channeled towards revival of the Kenya Meat Commission.

The revival pyrethrum growing and the free disease zone each got Kshs300 million and compensation of farmers in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme Kshs1.2 billion. Coffee debt write-off and land tilting were allocated Kshs1 billion and Kshs3.5 billion, respectively, water supply and sanitation Kshs29.5 billion, water storage and flood control Kshs2.1 billion and environmental protection conservation and management Kshs12.6 billion for.


Tea is a major foreign exchange earner for Kenya accounting for 26 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange. Improved international tea prices more than offset the effects of reduced marketed production, resulting in a 39.5 per cent increase in earnings to Kshs118.4 billion in 2015, up from Kshs84.9 billion in 2014.

The earnings placed tea exports are the largest foreign exchange earner, elbowing tourism again from the top slot. Tourism earnings went down to Kshs84.6 billion in 2015 compared to Kshs87.1 billion in 2014.

Kenya is the third largest producer and leading tea exporter in the world, contributing 23 per cent of tea exports. A major cash crop, tea contributes to four per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It thrives best in areas with low temperatures and high altitudes with the major producing areas being Kericho, Nandi, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, parts of Kisii and Kakamega.

So popular is Kenyan tea that tourists come just to see tea plantations. Though small-scale farmers account for 80 per cent of tea produced in the country, there are also major players who include Finleys, Brooke Bond, George Williamson and Kericho Gold.

While the small-scale producers market their tea through their respective factories, large-scale producers sell their produce independently. UK and Egypt are the major markets of Kenyan tea.

The Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) brings together large-scale tea growers who maintain over 10 hectares of the crop. It promotes the common interests of members in the plantation sub-sector in cultivation and manufacture of tea. It also creates good industrial relations and harmonised wage policies for employees.

Established in 1931, KTGA maintains 39 tea factories and accounts for 40 per cent of the total tea production in the country.

Tea is harvested throughout the year. However, dry seasons, especially January, February and July, give the best quality. For the last five years, tea production has been rising steadily.

Kenya is Africa’s largest tea producers of tea with production having been rising steadily especially over the last decade. Kenya exported 499 million kilogrammes of tea in 2014, up from 429.6 and 494 million kilogrammes in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Purple tea

Currently, 96 per cent of Kenya’s tea produce is black. To increase earning and diversify production, the Tea Research Institute pre-released TRFK 306/1, a purple tea variety, which had been under development for 25 years.

The pre-release of this clone was in line with the Government’s vision 2030, which focuses on new tea products as a way of boosting agriculture economic growth. The new variety currently fetches three to four times more revenue than the black tea.

Local tea consumption has almost doubled over the past six years from 17.4 million kilogrammes in 2008 to 32.1 million kilogrammes in 2014.

Tea supports livelihoods of more than three million people in Kenya either directly or indirectly.

Tea Board of Kenya (TBK)

TBK is mandated to license tea manufacturing factories, research on tea through the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya and register tea growers. It also regulates and controls tea cultivation. TBK also registers buyers, brokers, packers, management agents and any other person dealing in tea.

Since its establishment in 1950, TBK has licensed about 62 small-holder factories which are owned and managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency Ltd and 39 private estate companies.

The Board promotes and markets Kenyan tea in the local and international markets. It advises the Government on policy matters relating to the tea industry. TBK liaises closely with the industry’s stakeholders to ensure flow of information regarding tea on issues such as growing, processing and trade. Such stakeholders include the Export Promotion Council, Kenya Investment Authority and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation (NTZDC)

It was established in 1986 as a State Corporation to promote forest conservation through providing buffer zones of tea and assorted tree species to protect against human encroachment into forestland.

The Corporation protects humans from encroaching into forests by establishing belts of tea bushes and trees that act as a buffer between local communities and forests.

Currently, NTZDC operates in 17 zones across the country and covers at least eight major forests including Mau, Mt Kenya and Cherangani Hills. It enhances forests conservation while protecting the environment and enhancing production of high quality tea and rehabilitates ecologically fragile areas. It is also mandated to construct and maintain rural access roads, offices and green leaf collection centers. NTZDC produces fire-wood, which is essential in tea processing. It establishes and manages tea and fuel wood and indigenous trees plantations.

Horticulture and floriculture

Horticulture is the third major foreign exchange earner, after tea and tourism, with exports of fresh horticultural produce generating Kshs90.4 billion in 2015, up from Kshs84.1 billion in 2014.

Kenya’s temperate and tropical climate conditions make her a haven for horticultural production and development.

Over two million people are employed in the horticultural sector. Though there are large-scale players, an estimated 80 per cent of producers are small-scale. The European Union is the major market for Kenyan horticultural exports.

Cut flowers were the largest foreign exchange earners in this sub-sector, bringing in Kshs62.9 billion in 2015, up from Kshs59.9 in 2014. Earnings from vegetables were Kshs21 billion compared to Kshs18.9 billion the previous year while fruits generated Kshs6.6 billion, up from Kshs5.4 billion in 2014.

Export flowers in Kenya are mainly produced around Lake Naivasha, Kericho, Nyandarua, Trans Nzoia, Eastern Kenya, Uasin Gishu and parts of Central Kenya. The main flowers produced in Kenya are roses, comprising about 74 per cent of the country’s flower exports. Carnations, which are popular in Britain, especially at less romantic times, come second. Other flowers produced in Kenya include Statice, Lilies, Eryngiums, Arabicum, Hypericum, Gypsophilla and Alstroemeria.

Members of the Kenya Flower Council contribute about 70 per cent of the flowers exported. Though Kenya was not exporting flowers in the 1970s, she is currently the major exporter to the European Union, contributing 35 per cent of all flower sales. The European markets include Holland, United Kingdom, Switzerland, France and Germany.

Main destinations for Kenya Flowers

  • Holland (major proportion re-exported) – 65 per cent
  • Britain – 25 per cent
  • Germany – 5 per cent
  • France – 2 per cent
  • Others – 3 per cent

Kenya’s flowers are from large, medium and small-scale producers who have heavily invested in hi-tech technical, logistic and marketing skills. The farmers utilize computerised drip irrigation and fertigation systems, computerised greenhouses ventilation systems, net shading, pre-cooling and cold storage facilities, grading and banqueting.

They also have, fertiliser recycling systems to prevent wastage, wetlands for waste water treatment, artificial lighting to increase day length, grading/packaging sheds and refrigerated trucks.


Kenya is rated the 21st world’s best coffee producers. Coffee exports, once a leading foreign exchange earner for the country, earned Kshs12 billion in 2015, down from Kshs16.6 billion in 2014. The crop registered the highest earnings in 2011, when it generated Kshs17.8 billion.

It accounts for about five per cent of all exports from Kenya.

Coffee farming, cooperative societies and millers employ directly or indirectly about six million people. Small-scale producers account for approximately 70 per cent of coffee produced in Kenya.

Kenyan coffee is grown mainly in the Mt Kenya, the Aberdare Ranges, Nyanza, Nakuru, Bungoma and Kisii. Our coffee is dubbed the ‘Colombia mild’ type, popular for intense flavour and pleasant aroma, making it among top most sought coffees in the world.

Arabica is the predominant coffee type produced in Kenya and has distinct characters, which distinguish it from that of other regions. It is, for example, said to have a winy and acid taste.

Coffee Development Fund

The Coffee Development Fund (CoDF) was established in 2006 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector, particularly for the growers’ benefit. CoDF‘s mandate is to provide sustainable, affordable credit and advances to coffee farmers for farm inputs, farming operations and price stabilisation.

The loans available under CoDF include advances (Okoa Kahawa), extended advance (Tunza Kahawa), coffee rehabilitation loan (RL) (Imarisha Kahawa), coffee processing loan (Tayarisha Kahawa), coffee farm establish loan (Anzisha Kahawa), coffee machinery and equipment loan (Mkopo wa Vifaa), cherry advance (Vuna Kahawa), bulk farm inputs (Dumisha Kahawa) and wholesale loan (Jumuia Loan).

CoDF lends through two models: The agency lending model utilises intermediaries to reach the farmer as an end beneficiary. The Fund has partnered with 28 intermediaries from all coffee growing regions in the country, through which farmers access credit facilities.

The direct lending model involves disbursement of funds directly to the borrower without using an intermediary. It aims at minimising credit risk exposure occasioned by agency lending due to inefficiency and non-compliance with loan agency agreement.


White maize is the most important staple food for human consumption in the country. Each year, an average Kenyan consumes about 98 kilogrammes of maize. Availability of maize signifies food security. Maize is used as human and animal feed. Meals such as ugali, githeri (a mixture of maize and beans) and muthokoi (shelled maize) are popular in most Kenyan homes. It is also a source of many industrial products such as cooking oil, breakfast cereals among others.

In the export market, maize is of high demand amid increased production of bio-fuels. Kenya’s main maize production areas include Kitale, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kisii, Nakuru and Trans Mara. Others are Nyamira, Gucha, Kisii, Nandi, Nyandarua and Eastern regions.

Maize production declined by 4.2 per cent to 39.0 million bags in 2014. In 2015, earnings from maize dropped to Kshs8.5 billion, down from Kshs9.6 billion in 2014. The decline in production is attributed to erratic weather conditions that has been affecting most parts of the country.

Small-scale farmers account for approximately 75 per cent of maize producers in the country while 25 per cent is by large-scale farmers.

Maize and other rotational crops like beans and other legumes have been allocated 500,000 acres under one-million acre Galana-Kulalu project, which is expected to double maize production in the country from the current approximately 40 million bags to 80 million bags.

In July 2015, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization jointly with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) applied to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to release the first ever genetically modified (GM) maize variety in Kenya. The insect-protected GM maize variety, known worldwide as BT maize, will help farmers increase their yield by reducing damage caused by stem-borer and insect pests.

If authorised, the country will be the second in Africa after South Africa to release the BT maize, making Kenya an exporter of food and livestock products.


Wheat is the second most popular cereal after maize in Kenya for meals such as chapatti, cake, mandazi, samosas and bread. Wheat farming is mainly done on large scale for commercial purposes.

Annually, the crop is grown on about 150,000 hectares in the country. Narok is the country’s main wheat growing area, which on average accounts for 45 per cent of national wheat production. Others include Njoro, Naro Moru, Timboroa, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Uasin Gishu.

To minimise chemicals use promote organic farming, KALRO has been screening and breeding resistant varieties, such as Robin, Eagle 10, Kenya Wren, Kenya Tai, Kenya Sunbird, Kenya Korongo, Kenya Kingbird and Kenya Hawk.

Poor rainfall caused wheat production in 2014 to reduce by 1.39 million 90kg bags from 4.99 million to 3.6 million bags. However, in 2014, was low 3.6 million bags.


Rice is the third leading staple food in Kenya after maize and wheat. Rice farming is estimated at between 33,000 and 50,000 metric tons. Consumption is estimated at 180,000 and 250,000 tons. About 95 per cent of rice in Kenya is grown under irrigation in paddy schemes managed by the National Irrigation Board (NIB).

The remaining five per cent is rain fed. The average unit production under irrigation is 5.5 tons a hectare for the aromatic variety, and seven tons for non-aromatic varieties. Unit yield for rain-fed rice production is slightly below two tons a hectare.


Sugar is the third largest contributor to Kenya’s agricultural growth after tea and horticultural products. The 2015 earnings were Kshs21.4 billion, up from 20.3 billion in 2014.

There are three sugar belts in Kenya; Nyando, the western sugar belt and the south Nyanza sugar zone. Nearly five million people who depend on sugarcane farming in Kenya either directly or indirectly. Some 88 per cent of the total area under sugar cane in Kenya is undertaken by out growers, majority of them small-scale growers, whilst the remaining area is largely under sugar factories in the form of nucleus estates. The area under cane is 123,622 hectares of which 111,189 ha is farmed by smallholders and 12,433 under nucleus estates. Kenya’s annual production ranges from 400,000 – 500,000 metric tons.


Potato is the second most important food crop, after maize in Kenya. It is cultivated by over 800,000 growers who are mostly smallholder. Potato production in Kenya is currently worth about Kshs50 billion. This figure can be increased if production and processing (crisps, wine and starch) is optimised.

Potato has the potential of helping the country realise the set objectives for Vision 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS). It can provide cheap and nutritionally rich staple food requirements for the country’s fast growing population, especially, since the main staple food, maize, has its yields declining.

Sweet potato

Sweet potato is a secondary food crop mainly grown with little or no fertiliser by smallholder farmers nearly in all parts of the country. It is environmental friendly (reduces erosion and has low chemical use). It has a short maturity period of three to seven months and strategic for addressing food insecurity. It has many uses, ranging from consumption of fresh roots or leaves to processing into animal feed, starch, flour, candy and alcohol. Vines and roots can be used as livestock feed. There is potential for export market for sweet potato.

Livestock and animal products

Kenya has a thriving livestock industry, an important source of livelihood, especially in the Arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) and the high potential areas. The industry contributes significantly to Kenya’s economic development, accounting for 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Beef and meat products

Approximately 90 per cent of beef cattle keeping is practiced by pastoralists and subsistence farmers. Kenya’s cattle population is over 10 million, with the highest numbers being in the Rift Valley, Eastern and Nyanza regions. Beef is produced for both local consumption and export.

The East African Zebu is a leading beef breed, which forms 70 per cent of beef animals in Kenya. It is tolerant to drought and diseases, weighs between 200 and 300kg and suitable for pastoral systems.

The Boran breed is a large beef cattle weighing 750kg on average. It is tolerant to drought and diseases, is suitable for ranches and pastoralist farming systems, matures early and is reputed for high quality meat.

The Sahiwal breed has a medium body, weighing between 300 and 450kg. The animal is hardy, tolerant to diseases and drought, and produces meat and milk. It is suitable for dry land dairy farming.

Beef and beef products for the local market and export include chilled beef in bone and boneless steak. Kenya also produces value added beef and pork products such as bacon, ham and sausages. The major foreign markets for the beef products include the regional markets of Uganda and Tanzania, the COMESA zone, mainly the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius and Madagascar; and the United Arab Emirates.

Canned and frozen beef is marketed mainly through the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC).


Kenya is one of the leading milk producers in Africa. Small scale dairy farmers account for 80 percent while large scale ones account for 20 percent. Total milk production is estimated at 4.8 million tons. Kenya has an estimated 3.3 million pure breed dairy animals. 60 percent of milk produced comes from pure grade dairy cattle and their crosses.

Among popular dairy breeds include: Friesian-Originated from Netherlands and accounts for most milk in the country, Guernsey-very docile and gives creamy milk, Ayshire-High yielding and fits in a wide range of climate, Jersey-Originated from England and is more adoptable to extremes of heat and cold. Kenya’s dairy industry is seasonal in nature. Usually, there is excess production during wet season, and low production in dry season. To ensure availability of milk throughout, and that farmers have a market for their excess milk in wet season, New KCC has milk driers that dry the milk thus prolonging its shelf life. Dairy production exceeds the domestic consumption with the surplus being exported to the regional markets.

Dairy products and live animals

Kenya produces world-class, high quality dairy products for export, such as skimmed milk, long life milk, butter, ghee, yoghurt, dry milk and occasionally cheese. The country also exports live animals, mainly goats, camels and dairy breeding stocks, to the regional markets for breeding purposes and the Middle East normally for slaughter. The peak for exports is normally during the religious ceremonies and the pilgrimage.


There are 1.6 million camels in Kenya, mainly in ASALs, with Somali being the major breed. Ninety per cent of the camels are found in pastoralist areas. Camels adapt easily to harsh weather conditions and have a 14-day water interval. Each animal produces milk (an average of six litres of daily), meat, skin and offers cash income.

Leather and leather products

Cattle hides account for bulk of the conventional leather production in Kenya, comprising 70 per cent of all leather manufactured, while sheep and goat skins constitute 20 and 10 per cent, respectively. Other less significant sources include calf, lamb and kid skins, fish, buffalo hides, ostrich, crocodile and pig skins.

Kenya has a thriving tanning industry with 15 functioning tanneries with an installed capacity of handling 3.3 million hides and 8.3 million skins. The tanneries are:

  • Athi River Tanneries Ltd
  • Dogbones Ltd
  • Alpharama Ltd
  • Amiin Tanneries Ltd
  • Leather Industries of Kenya
  • East Africa Tanneries Ltd
  • Bata Shoe Company (Kenya) Ltd
  • Sam Investment Ltd
  • Reddamac Leather Centre
  • Mas Trading Company
  • Aziz Tanneries Ltd
  • Msai Import and Export
  • Nakuru Tanners Ltd
  • Nairobi Tanners Ltd
  • Sagana Tanneries Ltd

The products under this category include wet blue and tanned leather. Kenya manufactures various leather goods including footwear, handbags and belts. Some of these are exported to Uganda, Tanzania, COMESA, USA, EU and other regions


After years of poultry farming being mostly practiced on small scale, for domestic consumption, it is steadily gaining popularity as an agribusiness venture both in urban and rural Kenya. It includes rearing of various types of birds like turkeys, geese and ducks, with chicken remaining the most popular. Chicken breeds include Kroiler, Kienyeji (indigenous), broilers and Sasso.

Indigenous chicken constitute 25 million of the 32 million chicken in the country and is a readily available resource for the poor. Poultry meat has become more popular over the years especially due to its health benefits.

To meet the rising demand as well as provide a poultry breed that is resistant and highly productive, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) released the Improved Kienyeji chicken in 2012. In 2013, 200,000 day-old chicks were produced while 240,000 of the same were produced in 2014.

The number of fertile eggs produced between 2013 and 2014 rose by 50,000 from 450,000 to 500,000. There are four lines of KARLO improved kienyeji chicken and they all can do fairly well across the country.

In the last three years, Kalro improved Kienyeji has contributed approximately Kshs2.3 billion to the economy. The contribution is anticipated to rise to Kshs3 billion by end of 2015. Approximately 50,000 farmers keep this breed of chicken countrywide. Other major producers of poultry products include Kenchic, Muguku among others.

Kenyan poultry in numbers:
  • Indigenous chicken – 77 per cent
  • Broilers -14 per cent
  • Hybrid layers – 8 per cent
  • Others – One per cent – Kalro


Honey has in the recent past been gaining popularity in Kenya. Traditionally, it was collected from wild bees in forest. But its rising popularity has necessitated beekeeping in areas such as Kitui, Machakos, Baringo and Nakuru. Annual honey production is estimated at 700 metric tons. Honey is a high-energy feed, a sweetener, bread spread and can be used for medical purposes, for instance dressing wounds. Honey and the bee wax are sold to earn income for the farmer, apiculture requires little capital and bees are good pollinators for crops