Urban dwellers even began growing their own foods in balconies, and open spaces available in their rental compounds. Among the results of that public health campaign was a spike in demand for the horticultural produce, creating more opportunities for local farmers in the key economic sector.
Horticulture is the third largest foreign exchange earner for the country, generating around Sh150 billion annually and supports millions of livelihoods. However, the sector continues to grapple with constraints along the value chain compounded by uncoordinated markets and limited know-how by many small-scale farmers to produce high-quality crops.
The authorities believe that most of these challenges can be solved by implementing a 10-year strategic plan for the agricultural sector. The Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS), 2019-2029, highlights the Government’s initiatives to build households’ food resilience by increasing smallholder farmers’ incomes through supporting high agricultural productivity and value addition.
“The 10-year strategy recognizes that Kenya’s vibrant agribusiness sector has tremendous potential to be a powerful engine of transformation. The implementation as much as possible is to be done through the private sector,” said Josephine Simiyu, the head of regulations and compliance at the Horticulture Crops Directorate, at a recent stakeholder conference in Nairobi.
Simiyu represented the Principal Secretary for the State Department for Crop Development, Phillip Harsama, at the conference held to discuss resilience in the sub-Saharan African fruit and vegetable value chains. Agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy, contributing over 33 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) directly and an additional 27 percent through linkages with manufacturing and service-related sectors.