1.1 General Context Kenya’s population is estimated at 50.95 million people by end of 2018. Poverty levels among urban and rural populations also vary across regions, with 56 percent living below poverty line. This is despite Kenya attaining lower-middle-income status and becoming the fifth-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. Hunger, malnutrition, food security and climate change are still major concerns for the growing economy.
1.2 Sub-sector context The agricultural sector is the backbone of the Kenyan economy and the major means of livelihoods for a majority of the rural population. Continued growth of the sector is thus important for the improved and sustained high standards of living for the population. However, despite many years of development support to the agricultural sector, the production systems have remained generally small scale for subsistence, rain fed and poorly mechanized. The adoption of new and scientifically verified production systems and technologies with potential for increasing yields has been inadequate. This has generally contributed to the low food production, incomes and living standards of the farmers and pastoralists. Research has also been slow in the release of new technologies that have the potential for increasing productivity and where such technologies have been developed the process for delivery to the intended target groups has been slow (Agriculture Sector Development Strategy - ASDS).
Drought as a result of frequent rain failures in both the highlands and the ASAL areas are becoming very frequent and extended. The highlands are experiencing rapid increase in population causing an increased loss of forest cover as a result of deforestation for farming, infrastructure and settlements. Rain failure is becoming increasingly frequent in the ASAL areas as a result of the general global warming affecting the country and the Horn of Africa. A significant part of the declining capacity of the rangelands to maintain a substantial livestock population sufficient to sustain the human population can be attributed to global warming. Climate Smart Agriculture is a solution to help farmers cope with climate change as it addresses the challenges of building synergies between climate change mitigation, adaptation and food security issues that are closely related within agriculture and minimizing their potential trade-offs.
In order to achieve Vision 2030, the agricultural sector must have a sustained growth of over 7% over the period between now and 2030. The sector must be profitable, commercially oriented and competitive both regionally and globally. To achieve the envisaged growth level in the sector, the development and use of scientifically proven technologies must be enhanced. Therefore, Vision 2030 has identified agricultural research as the bedrock for agricultural development. However, the adoption of these technologies has been low and therefore more efforts must be put into disseminating these technologies. The Vision of Kenya’s agricultural sector is outlined in the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS). The vision will be attained by improving agribusiness and access to markets for the farmers and pastoralists, strengthening research, extension & training to enable the farmers/pastoralists to access improved production technologies, integrating development and management of the rangelands, diversifying sources of income for pastoral communities, and empowering the youth, women and the private sector to take up production roles in agriculture.