Challenges facing the agricultural sector in Kenya

Challenges facing the agricultural sector in Kenya

By Jane Muia / Posted on April 14, 2022 | 3:30 p.m.

KEY POINTS

The 2020/21 locust invasion across the Horn of Africa – the worst in decades – is a clear indication of crop vulnerability to pests.

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KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

Maize Deadly Necrosis (MLND), Fall Armyworm, False Codling moth, Desert Locust, Golden Snail, Papaya Mealybug, Tuta Absolute and Cuscuta are among the top threats listed by Agriculture CS Peter Munya as having greatly affected basic food security in the county.

The agricultural sector is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, contributing about 33% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The sector accounts for 65 percent of export earnings, provides livelihoods (employment, income and food security needs) to over 80 percent of the Kenyan population and contributes to improved nutrition through production healthy, diverse and nutritious foods. dense foods.

The sector is also the main driver of the non-farm economy, including manufacturing, supply of inputs and markets for non-farm operations such as building/construction, transport, tourism, education and other social services.

However, despite being a key player in the country’s economic growth, the sector has faced many challenges that have reduced agricultural production over the years.

Some of the major challenges affecting the sector include;

  1. Climate change

Sudden weather changes have become the norm in Kenya today. Late rains and high temperatures are no longer a tale. This has led to massive crop failures leading to food shortages, especially in the northern parts of Kenya. The change in rainfall patterns has affected agricultural production since 98 percent of the country’s agriculture is rainfed.

Frequent extreme weather events such as droughts that last longer than usual, floods and rising temperatures have been observed. The effects of these climate changes are devastating, with water security, food security and economic growth becoming even more difficult.

  1. Pests and diseases.

Maize Deadly Necrosis (MLND), Fall Armyworm, False Codling moth, Desert Locust, Golden Snail, Papaya Mealybug, Tuta Absolute and Cuscuta are among the top threats listed by Agriculture CS Peter Munya as having greatly affected basic food security in the county.

The aforementioned pests and diseases have not only affected food security but also the country’s horticultural exports.

According to the FAO, the desert locust is one of the world’s most destructive pests, with a small swarm covering one square kilometer eating the same amount of food per day as 35,000 people. The 2020/21 locust invasion across the Horn of Africa – the worst in decades – is a clear indication of crop vulnerability to pests.

  1. Bad infrastructure

Poor road conditions in rural areas have made it more difficult for farmers to transport their produce to market places. The loss of perishable goods during transport as well as the high transport costs of agricultural inputs and products have caused farmers to suffer huge losses.

  1. Soil infertility

Reduced fallow periods and continuous cultivation have led to rapid depletion of soil nutrients, lower yields and environmental degradation..

The challenges facing Kenyan agriculture and farmers are due to a lack of information and knowledge on how to avoid them or circumvent those that cannot be avoided. They can, however, be solved through effective training of farmers, especially small farmers.

The government also has an important role to play in addressing some of these issues, such as poor infrastructure and improving farmers’ access to affordable inputs and credit.

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Lana T. Arthur