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New trends in Kenyan Agriculture

25 Aug

Agriculture in Kenya dominates Kenya’s economy with between 15% and 17% of Kenya’s total land area having sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed and around 8% being classified as first class land. By 2006 almost75% of working Kenyans earned their living by farming making agriculture the largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product. Kenya is the leading producer of tea and coffee and one of the leading exporters of fresh produce like cabbages, onions and mangoes.

Kenya is a world leader when it comes to coffee and tea production. In the coffee industry Kenya is noted for its cooperative system of production as about 70% of Kenya’s coffee is produced by small scale holders. I has been estimated that there are over 150000 coffee farmers in Kenya and many more are employed indirectly in the industry. Tea, a major cash crop is ranked number 3 in foreign exchange earnings behind tourism and horticulture. Kenya has 62 tea factories servicing over 500 000 small scale farmers who produce over 60% percent of Kenya’s tea.

These two traditional crop stalwarts form the backbone of Kenya’s agricultural production. Significant strides have been made in other sectors of Kenyan agriculture. The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) is mandated with relevant research. KARI is the national institution bringing together research programmes in food crops, horticultural and industrial crops, livestock and range management, land and water management, and socio-economics. KARI promotes sound agricultural research, technology generation and dissemination to ensure food security through improved productivity and environmental conservation. KARI has 34 centres across Kenya to help cope with demand for the many technologies they develop. The technical assistance they provide help farmers when they decide to move to different crops to grow or turn to animal husbandry. KARI create awareness of new skills and crops for farmers to take up. They conduct on farm test trials and field days to demonstrate to the farmers which varieties are better than others.

One such new crop which farmers are turning to is bamboo which is grown for commercial and domestic use. The Kenya Forestry Research institute is spearheading the production fund and has already set aside 2million shillings for the crop. Bamboo is viewed as a more friendly crop that will protect the environmentally sensitive areas and provide bio-mass energy for both domestic and industrial consumption. Many farmers have taken up bamboo and are reporting how lucrative the crop is. One farmer from Nakuru had his to say, “A harvest can bring in millions of shillings. For instance, we sell one bbambooamboo stick at Sh40 and in a month we can have orders for about 200,000 pieces. This means that we can make about Sh8 million that month.” From putting food on your table, paper in your printer, a floor under your feet, furniture in your house and a fence around your compound, bamboo has plenty of uses. It is used in construction, makes charcoal, pulp, boards, cloth, furniture, food, fuel, medicine, utensils, matchsticks, toothpicks and crafts.







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