Food security through improved agricultural productivity in western Kenya

Project description

Title: Food security through improved agricultural productivity in western Kenya
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Kenya
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF)
Overall term: 2017 to 2018


Kenya’s agricultural sector is characterised by small-scale farms. Smallholders produce around 75 per cent of the country’s food – largely for the needs of their own families. The rapidly growing population, especially in towns and cities, coupled with the impacts of climate change and the scarcity of both land and water result in overexploitation of the natural resources and present major challenges for Kenya’s agricultural and food sectors.

The political institutional landscape has changed radically in the wake of the decentralisation process launched in 2013. The ministries for agriculture, livestock farming and fisheries have been merged into a single national ministry. Responsibility for agricultural services now rests with the newly created county governments, which affects agricultural extension services and training in particular. Cooperation between the authorities at national and county level is not yet fully functional, especially in relation to the re-allocation of mandates and responsibilities. In addition, the role of the national level in ensuring the continuing development of resources and capacities of the agricultural services at county level needs to be consolidated.


Key institutions for agricultural development, above all at national level and in the counties of western Kenya, promote sustainable agriculture that contributes to food security.


The project operates in the counties of Bungoma, Kakamega and Siaya in western Kenya. The project team advises the national Ministry of Agriculture with respect to putting the new, decentralised technical structures in place. The Ministry receives support in particular for building up and developing the counties’ capacities for providing agricultural extension services, and trialling other service models involving the private sector and non-governmental organisations. In addition, the Ministry receives needs-based advice on sector coordination and policy design, for example on adapting national strategies and policies to the requirements of decentralisation and its implementation.

The project acts as a facilitator for political negotiation processes to foster functional cooperation between the authorities at national and county level. The topics addressed include investment planning and the application of national standards at county level.

The project team assists decision-makers in the selected counties in planning and realising sustainable agricultural development by means of effective extension systems, taking nutrition issues into account. New approaches are tested and promoted to determine how the private sector can best be brought on board in a combined public-private advisory system. In the three project counties, measures are devised in cooperation with the political partners, research and teaching institutions and the private sector, to encourage a stronger focus on food and nutrition as topics in the agricultural extension services and curricula. This approach promotes sustainable, nutrition-sensitive agriculture at multiple levels.

The project is working with the tried-and-tested practices and processes initiated by the predecessor project and is developing these further. The national political partners receive ongoing support for formulating national policies, such as the overarching agricultural policy and the irrigation policy geared to sustainability. The project team organises consultation forums to bring together decision-makers from the national government and the counties. This has a positive effect on coordination and communication between the two levels. The project ensures the successful involvement of other German development cooperation projects working in the sector.