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Working paper 34 - Agricultural Policy-Making in Sub Saharan Africa: Kenya’s Past Policies

Author(s):  Raphael Gitau, Simon Kimenju, Betty Kibaara, James Nyoro, Michael Bruntrup, Roukayatou Zimmermann


For most Sub-Sahara African countries, agricultural development is key as it has particular and direct significance in attaining the first MDG (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger) and the seventh MDG (ensuring environmental sustainability). Agriculture remains the economic base for the majority of the poor in Africa as it constitutes a key economic sector in most African countries and its importance in poverty reduction and sustainable development cannot be overstressed. According to EU (2007), agriculture accounts for about a third of Africa’s GDP, while in many countries the sector provides 60-90% of employment.

Most agricultural production comes from small-scale farms and low-income farmers account for most of the staple food production on the continent. At the same time, most of Africa’s poor live in rural areas, where they depend, directly or indirectly, on agriculture for their livelihood. Accelerating pro-poor growth in agriculture is therefore one of the major avenues for reducing poverty and hunger. There are important linkages with the rest of the economy, implying a potentially high multiplier effect for agricultural growth.

In the past few years, agriculture has regained some prominence on the African policy agenda. A novel aspect in this respect is the increased importance attached to regional and continental levels to foster agricultural development. This is an expression of the growing willingness and capacity for African countries to collaborate at supra-national levels, as well as the realisation that national level processes can be usefully supported by regional and continental institutions, through capacity building, peer review, policy harmonisation and advocacy.

At the core of this initiative is the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which is an integrated socio-economic development framework for Africa. NEPAD is designed to address the current challenges facing the African continent such as the escalating poverty levels, underdevelopment and the continued marginalisation of Africa. It is a new vision pursuing Africa’s renewal which is spearheaded by African leaders.

The primary objectives of NEPAD are: to eradicate poverty; place African countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development; halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process and enhance its full and beneficial integration into the global economy; and accelerate the empowerment of women (NEPAD, 2003). The priority sectors for policy reforms and increased investments are: agriculture, human development, information and communications, infrastructure, energy, transport, water and sanitation, and the environment.

Two initiatives of NEPAD, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), are the most important pan-African initiatives concerning agricultural policies and institutions in Sub- Sahara Africa, with APRM for the general governance and institutional settings in and around the agricultural sector and its stakeholders, and CAADP for the agricultural sector policies. The primary purpose of the APRM is: “to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practice, including identifying deficiencies and assessing the needs for capacity building.

” Countries are assisted to achieve NEPAD’s objectives through constructive peer dialogue and persuasion and sharing of information and opening themselves to critical scrutiny by both peers (other African countries) and independent and widely respected, so-called eminent persons assessing itself on a set of objectives, standards, criteria and indicators in various domains of governance and development.

To foster agricultural development, NEPAD launched CAADP. The objective of CAADP is to help African countries reach a higher path of economic growth through agriculturally led development which eliminates hunger, reduces poverty and food insecurity, and enables expansion of exports. It is an approach, rather than actual programmes, to be integrated into national efforts to promote agricultural sector growth and economic development. The common framework is reflected in a set of key principles and targets defined by the Heads of State and Government.

The CAADP initiative takes a continent-wide view, but builds on national and regional plans for the development of agriculture. It is a manifestation of African commitment to address issues of growth in the agricultural sector, rural development and food security and has been instrumental in bringing agriculture back to the centre stage of economic development and poverty alleviation.

In Kenya agriculture is an important tool and vehicle for employment creation and reduction in poverty and it is still the backbone of the Kenyan economy. Agriculture directly contributes 26% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 60 % of the export earnings. The sector also indirectly contributes a further 27% to the GDP through linkages with manufacturing, distribution and service related sectors. It accounts for 60% of total national employment, with women providing 75% of labour force. Majority of the people who are poor in Kenya (80%) live in rural areas and derive their livelihood from agriculture. With 51% of Kenyan population being food insecure, agriculture is critical in the country’s economic development and alleviation of poverty (Republic of Kenya, 2004a).

In Kenya, the two Pan-African initiatives did not occur in a vacuum but rather fell into ongoing policy processes. For example, when CAADP was being endorsed by the African Heads of State in November 2002, the Government of Kenya was developing the Kenya Rural Development Strategy (KRDS) (Republic of Kenya, 2002a). The KRDS was a comprehensive policy on agriculture and rural development that was derived from the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) (Republic of Kenya, 2001). At the time when Kenya volunteered to join the APRM in 2004, the Government adopted the Strategy for Revitalising Agriculture (SRA) that constitutes the reference framework for the development of agricultural sector for the following ten years (2004-2014) (Republic of Kenya, 2004a).

The SRA is integrated in the more national Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation (ERS) policy document developed by the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) Government elected in December 2002 (Republic of Kenya, 2003). SRA was the response from the three ministries responsible for agricultural issues; Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development (MOLFD) and Ministry of Cooperatives Development and Marketing (MOCDM) towards the implementation of the ERS.

In order to understand how best to anchor the two Pan-African initiatives (APRM and CAADP) in the national policy making process, it is important to examine the role that agriculture plays in the national plans, which strategies have been employed in the sector and trend of resource allocation to the sector, which are analyzed in this study. In addition to this, this study seeks to understand the policy making process in Kenya using case studies on policies process in three sub-sectors i.e. dairy, coffee and cotton. In-depth research on these processes, such as that undertaken here, will be very valuable in order to better understand them. The generated information will permit to identify the main stakeholders, their characteristics, interests and networks, and the factors influencing the processes.

In particular, drivers of positive change (in the sense of rational pro-poor policies) will be better understood, as well as their needs and possibilities of support. A particular role is a priori attributed to high quality technical information on policy options and their possible impacts. Important research questions are how to best provide such information and facilitate the productive appropriation of stakeholders. This is done in the understanding that agricultural policies are formulated in highly politicized arenas, and stakes for losers of policy changes (as well as winners, but less articulated) are high. In many countries, the evolution and the development of policy is not documented.

This often poses a challenge of information gap when knowledgeable persons pass-on without passing on this information. Therefore, for one to understand policy process, interviews have to be undertaken on individuals who are knowledgeable about the process. This study uses interviews to understand policy evolution and in the undertaking of Network Analysis.

Where available, a review of documents is undertaken. The overall objective of this study is to understand the agriculture policy making process in Kenya with aim of reviewing the extent to which these initiatives, the internal formulation and implementation of individual country’s strategies integrate or augment each other. This will inform and identify how the agricultural sector has been prioritised in terms of policy formulation, implementation, allocation of resources and the extent to which the CAADP and APRM could be integrated to utilize key drivers of positive change.

Specific objectives of the study are;
(i) To examine the situation relating to the agricultural policy making in the country and how much emphasizes have been placed in agricultural policy formulation
and allocation of resources,
(ii) To provide information that will help determine the extent to which the current domestic policies incorporate the key aspects of the mentioned Pan-African initiatives.


Agricultural Policy-Making in Sub Saharan Africa: Kenya's Past Policies




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