Kenya’s economy grew by an overall 6.8% in the first quarter of 2022. The East African country’s agricultural sector, however, was noted as having shrunk by 0.7% in comparison to the same quarter for 2021. This is according to the latest figures from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), released late on Friday, 1 July 2022.
The country’s main agricultural exports include coffee, cut flowers, tea and horticultural products (such as fruit, vegetables and flowers). In Kenya, only 4% of all the horticultural produce exported while 96% is being consumed locally. Over 90% of all this produce consumed locally is being produced by small scale farmers. A total of 95% of flowers grown locally are exported to various international markets.
Irregular weather conditions
Taking a look back at previous statistics for 2021, the CBK logged an issue with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and its figures on the country’s agricultural sector specifically. According to KNBS data, the primary regions for growing food saw irregular weather conditions in 2021, which caused agriculture to perform much worse than other economic sectors. The sector experienced negative growth in each of the first three quarters of the year, at 0.1%, 0.7%, and 1.8% respectively. Predictions also indicated that it would continue to decrease in the fourth quarter of the year to an estimated 1.3%.
Although CBK governor Patrick Njoroge acknowledged that the low growth figures might reflect a high base effect – where a sector is coming off of a fantastic performance in the prior year – he emphasised the poor performance on concerns about data quality and launched an investigation into the correction of figures.
“Growth in the agricultural sector decelerated from 5.2% recorded in 2021 to negative 0.1% in 2021. This was occasioned by unfavourable weather conditions in various parts of the country, which resulted in reduced crop and livestock production. Consequently, maize production decreased from 42.1 million bags in 2020 to 36.7 million bags in 2021,” the corrected KNBS figures read via an official republishing of the report.
Tea and coffee take a knock
“Coffee production declined by 6.0% to 34.5 thousand tonnes in 2020/21. This was attributed to increased cost of farm inputs, leaf rust infestation, and the shift in land use from coffee farming to real estate, in addition to the unfavorable weather conditions.
“Tea production declined by 5.6% in 2020 to 537.8 thousand tonnes in 2021. The volume of sugar cane deliveries increased from 6.8 million tonnes in 2020 to 7.8 million tonnes in 2021. This was largely attributed to improved cane availability in most of the sugar zones. The volume of marketed milk increased by 17.2% to 801.9 million litres in 2021, while the volume of horticultural exports increased by 29.3% to 405.5 thousand tonnes in 2021.
“Intermediate consumption and gross value added at current prices increased by 15.9% and 11.1% in 2021 largely due to increase in prices of intermediate inputs and outputs, respectively. Output and intermediate consumption at constant prices increased by 1.0% and 5.5% to KSh 1969.9 billion and KSh 404.4 billion, respectively, in 2021. Gross value added declined to negative 0.1% to KSh 1,565.5 billion, in 2020.”