Digital Agriculture Profile • Kenya
With support from
As part of the initiative on Digital Agriculture Transformation, this profile on Kenya leverages the expertise of stakeholders to evaluate the current landscape of digital agriculture, including its key players across value chains, the main barriers they face, and the potential to overcome these barriers through the adoption of innovative technologies. In identifying and prioritizing these technologies, we aim to support investors and implementers in maximizing their impact by focusing on the opportunities of highest potential. Once enabling factors are identified and understood, the mainstreaming of digital agriculture in Kenya can begin in earnest.
of rural Kenyans have ELECTRICITY
of people aged
18-35 own a SMARTPHONE
Between 2013-2018 MOBILE SUBSCRIPTIONS have increased
and INTERNET/DATA subscriptions have increased
of the country has OPTICAL FIBER COVERAGE
Agriculture is Kenya’s economic cornerstone. It employs more than 40% of the total population and contributes 30% of the Gross Domestic Product. Recent years have brought significant new challenges, as well as important investment opportunities, to Kenyan agriculture.
Kenya’s 8.6 million agricultural producers currently lack the contemporary technologies and decision support tools necessary for sustaining and improving yields. This challenge is exacerbated by climate change, which has forced farmers to grapple with increasingly volatile weather, more frequent extreme weather events, and accelerated environmental degradation. Other stakeholders along agricultural value chains, including input providers, distributors, and consumers, also face substantial challenges, including product quality, monitoring, traceability, pricing, cold-chain and storage, value-addition, automation, and communication.
 Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, “Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy.”
One possible solution to address these challenges is digital agriculture. While the concept of digital agriculture is relatively new and still evolving, foundational technologies, such as mobile and Internet connectivity, are already available to support innovative digital solutions to the biggest challenges the agriculture sector faces.
Digital agriculture is the use of new and advanced technologies, integrated into one system, to enable farmers and other stakeholders to improve their products and processes. Integrating digital solutions into agriculture can improve the efficiency by decreasing financial and labor costs, by providing information to support management decisions, by increasing product quantity and/or quality, by reducing losses, and/or by ensuring effective and sustainable use of resources. Ultimately, the transition to digital agriculture presents a unique opportunity to spur sustainable economic growth and development by addressing agriculture’s biggest challenges.
Kenyan agriculture is very high risk, making input markets, product quality and quantity, and distribution networks extremely unstructured and volatile.
The current set of technologies available to the Kenyan agricultural sector is broad but has not yet crossed the crucial threshold into mainstream use. About 113 institutions offer digital solutions for agriculture in Kenya, 64 of which are headquartered there.
High technology costs, low digital literacy, limited infrastructure access, and a weak enabling policy environment are the primary constraints to adoption of digital agricultural solutions.
Mobile, data, blockchain, and weather station technologies are the most promising high-impact solutions for the challenges facing Kenyan agricultural stakeholders.
The public sector, non-profit organizations, private industry, and international community all have important and distinct roles to play in creating sustainable digital agricultural solutions in Kenya.
PRIORITY TECH SOLUTIONS
• MACHINE LEARNING •
To enable input suppliers to consistently meet demand
• WEATHER STATIONS •
To inform producer’s decision process
• DATABASE SYSTEMS •
To enhance access to credit, loan, savings, warehouse receipt, insurance, etc.
• MOBILE APPS •
To improve distribution efficiency and effectiveness
• MOBILE APPS •
To inform consumers about food quality, origins, and safety
ACROSS THE FOOD SYSTEM
To enable end users to make informed decisions related to supply and demand, market pricing, on-farm management practices, distribution, etc.
To connect input suppliers, producers, distributors, and consumers who are seeking purchase and sales opportunities
For transparent information accessible to all stakeholders on the origins, contents, and quality of inputs, and value addition processes
Kenya has made marked progress in laying the foundation for digital agricultural solutions. Connectivity is expanding, subscription rates are increasing, and the cost of access is falling. A number of digital solutions in agriculture have been piloted over the last few years. This suggests important opportunities for digital solutions to the major challenges plaguing Kenyan agriculture, including lack of access to financial, market, climate, and extension services; supply chain traceability and management; agricultural mechanization; and consumer access to high-quality products. The digital agriculture ecosystem is growing rapidly. However, real success thus far is marginal, and significant challenges remain. Cost remains high, access is still limited, and digital literacy remains very low.
Our research suggests that stakeholders who focus their efforts on developing mobile, database, blockchain, and weather station -based solutions are most likely to bring high-impact solutions to the Kenyan agricultural sectors. Supportive national policy strategies, a public-sector commitment to foundational weather, mobile, electrical, and Internet infrastructure, the support of research and development organizations (NARES, CGIAR, FAO), private sector engagement in innovation and monetization, and public and international donor support will all be crucial to ensuring the success of such solutions.