BUR 305:RESOURCE AND
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING I
LAND RESOURCES IN KENYA
AGRICULTURAL LAND USE
Land in Kenya means different things to different people. To
farmers and pastoralists land is property to be owned and a
source of livelihood, and access to land and controlling it are
Agricultural land (also agricultural area) denotes the land
suitable for agricultural production, both crops and livestock.
The elite consider land as a marketable commodity from which
to make windfall profits through market speculation
Agriculture is derived from Latin words Ager and Cultura. Ager
means land or field and Cultura means cultivation. Therefore
the term agriculture means cultivation of land.
Agriculture is defined as the art, the science and the business
of producing crops and the livestock for economic purposes.
As an art, it embraces knowledge of the way to perform the
operations of the farm in a skillful manner.
As a science: It utilizes all modern technologies developed on
scientific principles such as crop improvement/breeding, crop
production, crop protection to maximize the yield and profit.
• Agribusiness-is the business of agricultural production.
• Agronomy-is the science and technology of producing and using
plants for food, fuel, fiber, and reclamation.
• Sustainable agriculture -is the act of farming using principles of
ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their
• Urban agriculture -is the practice of cultivating, processing, and
distributing food in or around a village, town, or city.
• Agricultural land -refers to plots that may be used for agricultural
CLASSIFICATION OF AGRICULTURAL LAND (F.A.O)
• Arable land -land under annual crops, such as cereals, cotton.
• Permanent Crops-Orchards and vineyards (e.g., fruit plantations).
• Permanent Pastures -areas for natural grasses and grazing of
livestock, such as Meadows and pastures.
• Cultivable land-arable land and land in permanent crops
CURRENT AGRICULTURE SITUATION IN KENYA
• Currently (15-17) % of Kenya’s total land area has sufficient
fertility and rainfall to be farmed. Of this, only (7-8) % can be
classified as the first class land.
• About 50% of Kenya’s total agricultural output is non-marketed
• Agriculture is the largest contributor of Kenya’s Gross Domestic
product i.e. about 51% serving a population of about 41million.
The poverty level in Kenya stands at 46% with agricultural sector
providing up to 75% of the Kenya’s labor force.
• Only 21% of Kenya’s land is arable, yet maximum yield haven’t
been reached yet in these areas, leaving considerable potential for
• Most farmers in Kenya work without basic agriculture input or
updated technology and lack of adequate financial or extension
FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE IN KENYA
The future of agriculture in Kenya has both the positive and
negative sides and they include:
Continuous depletion of ocean resources as various fish is
harvested to near extinction.
Depletion of arable land. In Kenya the arable land is only about
20%. This land can be depleted through development or wrong
Depletion of ground water used for irrigation. The ground water
has been harvested for irrigation in some parts of the country to
the extent of depletion.
Development of technology is also a threat to agricultural
Population increase in Kenya is also likely to impact on future
demand for agricultural products.
Practicing “precision agriculture” i.e. involving the integration of
satellite observations on the ground instruments and sophisticated
farm machines to apply the appropriate amount of seed, water,
fertilizer and so on.
THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE IN KENYA
Rural urban balancing-Through creation of employment in rural
areas it discourages rural to urban migration
Promotes and creates various off farm activitiestransportation for example feeder roads in sugar cane growing
areas there by improving accessibility.
Foreign exchange earner-Agriculture accounts for70% of total
export earnings (excluding refined oil.)
Establishes industrialization framework-Agriculture supplies
raw materials for industries e.g. timber for the paper
manufacturing industry, skin and hide for leather industry.
Employment-Agriculture accounts for two thirds of Kenya’s
Economic development-According to the central bureau of
statistics; 75% of working Kenyans made their living by farming
by 2006 compared to 80% in the 80s. About half of Kenya’s total
agricultural output is non –marketed subsistence production, that
is, for food.
Food production-Agriculture ensures that the work force is fed
with energy to supply labor to industries and other economic
THE MAJOR CHALLENGES FACING AGRICULTURE
Poor infrastructure-Poor rural roads and other key physical
infrastructure have led to high transportation costs for
agricultural inputs and products.
Lack of farm inputs- - Most farmers lack information on the right
type of farm inputs to use and the appropriate time of application
of the same.
Infection from Pest and Diseases-caused by lack of information by
the farmers on how to control these diseases.
Use of outdated technology -- Although Kenya has a welldeveloped agricultural research system, use of modern science
and technology in agricultural production is still limited
.Inadequate extension services-plays a key role in disseminating
knowledge, technologies and agricultural information, and in
linking farmers with other actors in the economy.
Soil nutrient deterioration-The rising population density has
contributed to the subdivision of land to uneconomically small
Climate change -The effects of climate change has been felt
mostly by the farmers especially due to dependence on rain-fed
RECOMMENDATIONS ON AGRICULTURE
A holistic approach and partnership are required to build the
capacity and services needed to integrate small farmers into
commercial value chains.
Value chain analysis is an important part of understanding chains
and relationships and how to best target work in them, especially
for rural farmers.
Farmers have to be trained to understand commercial agriculture,
take necessary measures to meet buyer specifications.
Skill and capacity building addressing needs of small farmers in a
collaborative and efficient manner is required.
Producers, extension agents and crop advisers need to determine
more accurately fertilizer rates to optimize crop yield and reduce
loss of nutrients to the environment.
The middle men should be done away with to avoid exploitation
of farmers and the government to provide direct market to