By George Munene
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) annual Economic Survey report released yesterday (4th May 2023), most key agriculture sub-sectors recorded declined performance resulting in a contraction of 1.6 per cent of the sector in 2022 compared to 0.4 per cent in 2021.
The sector’s poor performance was mainly in crop and livestock production, which was severely affected by the widespread drought experienced in 2022. And the increased price of fertilizer, fuel and power, purchased seeds and manufactured feeds.
Maize production decreased from 36.7 million bags in 2021 to 34.3 million bags in 2022. The value of marketed maize decreased by 14.5 per cent from Sh 6.9 billion in 2021 to Sh 5.9 billion in 2022 as a result of decreased quantities of marketed maize. However, the price per 100 kilogramme of maize increased to Sh 3,938.2 in 2022 from Sh 3,002.7 in 2021.
During this period maize imports increased by 79.7 per cent to Sh 24.7 billion.
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Similarly, production of beans decreased by 23.0 per cent to 5.7 million bags in 2022, while production of sorghum decreased by 20.0 per cent from 1.5 million bags in 2021 to 1.2 million bags in 2022. However, production of millet, a highly drought tolerable crop, remained constant at 0.7 million bags in 2022.
The average retail price of maize, finger millet, potatoes and cabbages rose by 25.7, 16.9, 15.3 and 41.4 per cent, respectively in March 2022 compared to March 2021.
In September 2022, prices of maize, beans, sorghum, potatoes and bananas increased by 91.7, 27.7, 31.4, 58.8 and 31.2 per cent, respectively, compared to the corresponding period in 2021.
The quantity of cotton delivered to marketing boards increased almost threefold from 1.3 thousand tonnes in 2021 to 3.8 thousand tonnes in 2022. Similarly, the quantity of coffee, sugarcane, pyrethrum, sisal and rice paddy increased by 48.6, 11.5, 92.6, 11.4 and 11.0 per cent respectively, during the review period.
On the other hand, the quantity of maize, wheat and tea delivered to marketing boards went down by 34.0, 24.8 and 0.8 per cent, respectively, in 2022.
Imports of chemical fertilizers increased by 26.7 per cent to Sh 49.2 billion in 2022 while imports of animal and vegetable fats and oils went up by 20.6 per cent to Sh 145.8 billion during the same period.
The quantity of marketed milk decreased from 801.9 million litres in 2021 to 754.3 million litres in 2022 largely due to scarcity of fodder for livestock.
The price of milk per 100 litres rose by 12.4 per cent to Sh 4,720.43 in 2022. For its part the price for 100 kilogramme of third grade beef rose from Sh 44,839.6 in 2021 to Sh 46,522.1 in 2022 while 100 kilogramme of pig meat increased by 5.7 per cent to Sh 25,962.2 over the same period.
Similarly, tea production decreased from 537.8 thousand tonnes in 2021 to 535 thousand tonnes in 2022 on account of depressed rainfall in tea-growing areas. Tea was the country’s leading export commodity in 2022 recording the highest earnings of Sh163.3 billion. The price of tea rose by 25.3 per cent from Sh 23,444.4 per 100 kilogramme in 2021 to Sh 29,384.8 per 100 kilogramme in 2022 due to improved international tea prices.
The volume of horticultural exports decreased from 405.5 thousand tonnes in 2021 to 392 thousand tonnes in 2022. Exported vegetables and cut flowers declined by 19.6 and 5.4 per cent, respectively, in 2022.
The decline in horticultural exports is explained by low demand for cut flowers and vegetables in the international market during the year under review. This was as a result of high inflation in the European Union region, the primary destination for cut flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
However, the volume of fruit exports increased by 11.2 per cent to stand at 130.5 thousand tonnes in 2022.
The volume of sugarcane deliveries also increased from 7.8 million tonnes in 2021 to 8.7 million tonnes in 2022, largely on account of favourable weather conditions in sugarcane growing areas.
The value of marketed wheat increased by 4.8 per cent from Sh 10.4 billion in 2021 to Sh 10.9 billion in 2022 attributed to higher prices resulting in higher earnings despite the reduction in quantities of marketed wheat. The price per 100 kilogramme of wheat increased to Sh 5,971.3 in 2022 from Sh 4,297.9 in 2021.
Coffee production was up from 34.5 thousand tonnes in the crop year 2020/21 to 51.9 thousand tonnes in 2021/22, partly attributed to conducive weather conditions in the coffee growing areas and improved crop husbandry. The price of coffee however declined by 25.8 per cent from Sh 65,864.9 per 100 kilogramme in 2021 to Sh 48,871.4 per 100 kilogramme in 2022. This was partly attributed to low demand for coffee in the international market where fewer buyers were involved in the virtual coffee auction.
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Earnings to farmers for dry pyrethrum flowers more than doubled from Sh 106.7 million in 2021 to KSh 221.5 million in 2022. This was attributed to higher production coupled with higher prices for the pyrethrum flowers.
The quantity and value of fish landed increased by 5.9 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively to 173.6 thousand tonnes and Sh 31.1 billion, respectively, in 2022. The value of fish landed from freshwater sources accounted for 77.6 per cent of the total value of fish produced and increased from Sh 23 billion in 2021 to Sh 24.1 billion in 2022.
Sisal prices rose to Sh 20,296.2 per 100 kilograms, a 16.8 per cent jump from 2021.
According to the report the rainfall distribution, both in time and space, was generally poor with most parts of the country receiving below-average amounts of rainfall during both long and short rain seasons of March-April-May (MAM) and October-November-December (OND) respectively in the year under review.
The mean minimum annual temperatures increased from 17.5 degrees Celsius in 2021 to 18.1 degrees Celsius in 2022 while the mean annual maximum temperatures across the country remained constant at 28.6 degrees Celsius over the same period.
Agriculture remained the dominant sector, accounting for about 21.2 per cent of the overall Kenyan Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2022.