Nearly nine out of 10 Kenyan farmers say their financial situation has gotten worse during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to recent data released by 60 Decibels, Kenyan farmers are being economically squeezed by decreasing demand for their produce and livestock, falling prices, and increasing costs for raw materials and supplies.
“The situation has rapidly deteriorated for many Kenyan farmers,” according to Venu Aggarwal, Agriculture Director at 60 Decibels Inc.
“Since agriculture dominates the
Kenyan economy and employs approximately 75 per cent of Kenya’s workforce, the ability of farmers to weather the pandemic storm is vital to Kenya’s future economic outlook.”
According to 60 Decibels’ research, Kenyan farmers are being forced to make adjustments to cope with the pandemic’s economic fallout.
Approximately 90 per cent of farmers have reduced the number of people hired to work on their farms. As a result, many farmers said they and family members are spending more time working on the land.
These adjustments are critical due to Kenyan farmers’ diminishing non-farm incomes and increasing food prices.
Seventeen per cent of farmers reported a decrease in at least one income source compared to this time last year.
Only 15 per cent of farmers currently have income from a salaried job, compared with 25 per cent in 2019.
The economic pressure on Kenyan farmers may have longer-term impacts.
Nearly six out of 10 farmers said they have made unplanned withdrawals from their savings, and over 40 per cent recently borrowed money to cover shortfalls in income due to the pandemic. Eighteen per cent reduced payments on their loans, and 15 per cent have sold or pawned assets they own.
While it is challenging to predict how long the economic downturn will last, the short-term consequences are striking. As many as one-third of Kenya’s farming households are in economic distress, according to 60 Decibels’ Vulnerability Index.
“When we see a large number of households entering economic distress, we worry about the consequences for those individuals, but also the broader economic consequences for Kenya.
“It is certainly a call to action within the public and private sectors,” says Nilah Mitchell, Head of East Africa at 60 Decibels.