Agriculture is a major source of employment in Kenya and the largest contributor to the country’s GDP. Kenya’s agriculture sector accounted for 32.6% of GDP in 2016.

Kenya Agriculture – Value added of GDP (%)


Source: World Bank

Kenya’s agriculture industry is expected to grow over 4% per year in the period 2017-21.

Kenya Agriculture GVA growth


Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Improving agricultural productivity and investing in rural development is crucial for Kenya since a majority of the population live in rural areas. The Kenyan government has allocated KES69.6 billion to agriculture and rural development sectors in the 2016-17 budget.

Kenya - Budget for Agriculture & Rural Development 2016-17


Source: Kenya National Treasury

Kenya’s most valuable agricultural export is tea. Kenya is the largest exporter of tea in the world accounting for 22% of the total world tea exports. Tea industry contributes around 4% of the country’s GDP and 26% of the country’s export earnings. Tea production in Kenya has increased by 18% year on year in 2016. However, the value of tea production has declined by 1.6% from KES118.4 billion in 2015 to KES116.5 billion in 2016 due to lower auction prices.

Kenya – Tea Production


Source: Kenya Tea Directorate

Kenya’s total tea exports increased to 480.33 million kg in 2016 from 443.46 million kg in 2015.

Kenya Tea Exports by Destination (2016)


Source: Kenya Tea Directorate

Horticultural products are Kenya’s second most valuable commodity export. Kenya's earnings from horticulture exports rose by 12% year on year to KES101.51 billion ($988.41 million) in 2016, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The volume of horticultural exports increased by 9.4% from 238.7 thousand tonnes in 2015 to 261.2 thousand tonnes in 2016. Flower exports, which accounted for 69.8% of the value of horticulture exports, contributed KES70.83 billion. Fruit and vegetable exports contributed KES 30.71 billion in 2016. Kenya aims to boost the diversification of the horticultural sector in the medium term.

Kenya - Total earnings from horticultural exports


Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Production of maize declined from 42.5 million (90 kg bags) in 2015 to 37.1 million bags in 2016. The value of marketed maize declined by 7.2% to KES7.9 billion in 2016, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Kenya - Maize Production


Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Kenya’s wheat production declined from 238.6 thousands tonnes to 222.4 thousands tonnes in 2016. The value of marketed wheat declined by 2.1% to KES8 billion in 2016.

Kenya - Wheat Production


Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

The Outlook

Kenyan government aims to further intensify its efforts to expand irrigation projects countrywide in order to eliminate its dependence on rain-fed agriculture. It is expected that Kenya’s agriculture industry is expected to grow over 4% per year in the period 2017-21, and the sector will remain the backbone of Kenyan economy.