Kenya’s economy was built on agriculture. Today, it is constantly evolving and modernising, and still contributes most to national GDP and is the biggest employer. Products range from small-scale subsistence maize harvests for farmers and their families, to multimillion-dollar international flower and vegetable exports. Kenya is the world’s largest grower and exporter of pyrethrum, and among the largest producers of black tea and coffee.
Horticulture, encouraged by Government, a favourable climate, low-cost labour, year-round international demand, and direct air connections to key markets, is one of the fastest growing agricultural subsectors, and directly or indirectly employs two million Kenyans. The volume of exports of cut flowers, fruits and vegetables rose by 8.9, 5.4 and 13.2 per cent respectively, in 2016. This led to a 12.3 per cent growth in the value of fresh horticultural exports. Key products include French beans, fine beans, and dwarf beans; fresh peas including mange tout, sugar snaps, and garden peas; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, courgettes and baby carrots; and cut flowers including roses, spray and standard carnations, and lilies.
Opportunities in Agriculture
- Diversifying from black tea with no value added – which is how 98 per cent of Kenyan tea is sold – into speciality teas for specific niche markets, green tea, orthodox teas, ready to drink (juice tea), and organic tea.
- Processing dairy products into powdered milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, ice-cream and flavoured condensed milk.
- Producing, milling, packaging, and marketing of wheat and wheat flour in key growing areas of Uasin Gishu, Narok, Marakwet, Elgeyo, Molo, Londiani, Nakuru, and Timau.
- Processing groundnuts into peanut butter and peanut oil for processed foods, cosmetics, and paints and finishes.
- Building abattoirs and refrigeration plants, processing leather, and providing financial services including loans and banking, in areas rich in livestock.
- Deep sea fishing, and fish and seafood processing and refrigeration.
- Processing organic honey, manufacturing bee-keeping equipment, and promoting bee products in high demand in developed markets, such as Royal Jelly.