Only with the right mix of measures can Kenya achieve its Sustainable Development Goals

An analysis by Biovision of various scenarios has shown that even with additional financial resources Kenya is unlikely to achieve its agricultural goals by 2030. However, the right mix of sustainable and medium-term measures would achieve more than conventional strategies as the latter only have a short-term effect.

At the request of the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Biovision in cooperation with the Millennium Institute carried out a policy analysis to determine how Kenya might best achieve both its national agriculture targets by 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study, which was based on a system of modelling, clearly showed that in general terms the country has set itself ambitious goals. For example, the target of eliminating hunger and poverty by 2050 is unrealistic, even with the 10% increase in financial resources for the agricultural sector demanded in the Maputo Declaration and CADDP. However, with a targeted mix of political decisions and measures, these goals would be within reach but only if the country adopted this path and pursued it resolutely.

The study was conducted as part of the Biovision project Changing Course in Global Agriculture and included regular input from local authorities, scientists and the civil society. It analysed and interpreted a total of six future scenarios using the system-dynamic tool “Threshold 21”. The six were stronger measures to improve the efficiency of irrigation, access to markets, fertiliser use, subsidies, the training of smallholders in agro-ecological methods of cultivation as well as a combination of various scenarios. The study also examined the impact on poverty reduction, malnutrition, a range of production variables as well as job creation.

The results were unambiguous: In particular, the targeted training of smallholders in sustainable agriculture and the use of more efficient methods of irrigation would have a clear, beneficial effect on the individual variables. Similarly, improvements to access by smallholders to local and regional markets had the potential to bring Kenya closer to achieving its goals. In terms of the SDGs, these measures would reduce malnutrition and unemployment in rural areas by nearly 80% by 2030. Key, however, would be consistent support for the above measures used in combination as this would allow synergies to be exploited.

Of particular importance are the medium to long-term prospects for the goals: The results also showed that although government subsidies for chemical fertilisers would result in an immediate improvement in most socio-economic indicators the use of chemical fertilisers would have environmental consequences. For example, it would reduce soil fertility making it more difficult in the longer term to achieve the goals.

This analysis will serve as a scientific base for Kenya’s future, national agriculture strategy that is currently being reviewed. The next stage is to present the findings to senior officials at the Kenyan Ministries of Agriculture and Planning so that the recommendations from the study can feed into this strategy and so facilitate support for appropriate action.

PDF of the study