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      Theme: Transforming Smallholder Agriculture in Kenya in the Context of Climate

                               Change, Devolution and Increasing Land Constraints

 Date: 10th and 11th November, 2015


 Venue: Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi



The contribution of the agricultural sector to overall economic growth and food security in Kenya cannot be overemphasized. The sector is a key driver of the economic pillar of the Kenya Vision 2030. The significance is demonstrated by the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over the last five years, the sector has contributed over 25% of the GDP. In addition, the sector employs, directly and indirectly, about 75% of the country’s population and contributes over 60% of the country’s export earnings.

It is estimated that about 80% of farmers in the country are smallholder farmers. However, these farmers account for a significantly low proportion of agricultural production. How to improve smallholder production is a pertinent question for government, development partners, research institutions, civil society organization and the farmers themselves. The current administration has prioritized agricultural transformation as one of its key development objectives. Agricultural transformation involves programmes and initiatives that create a favourable environment for farmers to engage in profitable, productive and competitive agricultural businesses.

Despite the objectives to transform, the agricultural sector continues to face many challenges that include low agricultural productivity, steady reduction of agricultural land and uneconomical land sub-division. Also, there are effects from emerging challenges such as climate variability and change. In addition, the sector has seen structural changes as a result of devolution of majority of the functions to county governments.

There is need for sector stakeholders to fully understand the implication of these challenges on smallholder farming in Kenya. This will greatly improve the pursuit of the goal of transforming smallholder agriculture in Kenya and ensure that policies and programs are tailored to improve productivity and efficiency of smallholder farmers. Tegemeo Institute, in collaboration with Michigan State University has carried out research on the implications of these challenges to the sector. Sharing these findings with policy makers and other stakeholders, and subsequent debate around these issues is important in shaping the smallholder agricultural transformation agenda. It is against this background that Tegemeo Institute with the support of the USAID Mission in Kenya has organized the Tegemeo Conference 2015 on transforming smallholder agriculture in Kenya. This conference will take place on the 10th and 11th November 2015 at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Ruaraka, Nairobi, Kenya.

About Tegemeo

Tegemeo is a policy research Institute under the Division of Research and Extension of Egerton University. The mandate of the Institute includes responding to contemporary policy issues/challenges and providing information to policy makers that can help in the formulation of appropriate policy strategies in agriculture, rural development, natural resources, and the environment. The Institute has developed into one of the leading authorities in agricultural policy research and analysis in Kenya and has become a reservoir of knowledge on rural livelihoods. Tegemeo Institute undertakes empirical research and analysis on topical agricultural policy issues and promotes policy dialogue and advocacy via the dissemination of various research findings to a large number of stakeholders including government, private sector, civil society and development partners.

Conference Objectives

This conference creates an interface between policy makers, researchers and other sector stakeholders to share research findings and facilitate dialogue on the way forward in transforming smallholder agriculture.

Theme and Sub Themes:

The core theme of the conference is “Transforming Smallholder Agriculture in Kenya in the Context of Climate Change, Devolution and Increasing Land Constraints”. Key discussion points are organized in the following sub themes:

Land Access: Land is the most important input in agriculture, yet majority of smallholder farmers have small land holdings. Sizes of land per capita continue to decrease as a result of many factors including increasing population growth, real estate development, and urbanization among others. How can the sector achieve this transformation in the face of the increasing land constraints?

Climate variability and Change:The country has experienced adverse weather with an increasing frequency in recent years. Most affected are smallholder farmers who have limited information and resources to utilize adaptation measures to deal with climate change. On the other hand, they suffer the largest proportions of losses from climate variability and change. What are the likely impacts of climate change on crop production and household welfare? Various adaptation mechanisms such as irrigation and crop insurance have been suggested. Is irrigation viable in the face of climate change in the Kenyan context? What is the potential contribution and challenges of crop insurance as a risk coping mechanism?

Devolution: Further and following devolution, majority of the functions in the agricultural sector are now being implemented by the county governments. This transfer of activities to the county level, though very critical in bringing key agricultural services and support to lower levels, comes with new challenges. These include new taxation rules, unharmonized standards, and inconsistency and lack of coordination between national and county government. How is the agriculture sector performing after devolution?

Input Intensification and Subsidy:Subsidies should enable newer and modern technology to reach smallholder farmers. Use of these inputs is crucial in improving agricultural productivity and livelihoods for these farmers. Have this goal be achieved? How have subsidy programs performed in Kenya?

Agricultural Information Systems and Innovations:Accessing information especially on new technology is key in transforming smallholder agriculture. New modes of information provision have come up. How is the current system and changes working to ensure smallholder agriculture get timely and adequate information to influence their production choices? In addition, what innovations are propelling smallholder farmers towards higher productivity and incomes? Are there successful innovations that can be up-scaled?


Conference participants are drawn from the public sector, specifically from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; semi-autonomous government agencies in the agricultural sector; county governments; private sector organizations; civil society organizations; development agencies; universities and research institutes; farmer representatives among others.



Day 1

(November 10)

Day 2

(November 11)

Morning Session Session I: Opening Session I: Recap of Day 1
Session II: Keynote Address Session II: Agriculture and Devolution
Session III: Land Access and Policy Session III: Agricultural Services and Innovations
  Session IV: Monitoring Learning and Evaluation
Session V: Panel Discussion
Lunch Break    
Afternoon Session Session IV: Climate Change and Livelihoods  
Session V: Input Intensification & Subsidies