Farmers counting losses as Covid-19 ravages sector


Some 86 per cent of Kenyan farmers are worse off today compared to last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest statistics show.

 This is contained in data from 60 Decibels, a technology enabled impact measurement company. A third of the agricultural households are in economic distress, with some forced to sell their assets or take a loan to remain afloat. This is because of declining demand for livestock and crop products, coupled with rising costs of raw materials and farm inputs. 

 “Agriculture dominates the Kenyan economy and employs 75 per cent of Kenya’s workforce. The ability of farmers to weather the current pandemic storm is vital to the country’s future economic outlook. The situation has deteriorated for many farmers,” observes Venu Aggarwal, the agriculture director at 60 Decibels. 

Kenyan farmers are forced to make adjustments to cope with the economic crisis. 

Overall, 90 per cent of farmers have reduced the labour force on their farms. 

After the Covid-19 outbreak, farmers have had to involve more of their family members in the business.

The report indicates that 17 per cent of them reported a decline in their earnings.  

Only 15 per cent of the farmers have income from a wage-earning job, compared to 25 per cent in 2019.

Six out of 10 farmers made unplanned withdrawals from their savings, and more than 40 per cent have borrowed money to cover income shortfalls due to the pandemic.

Some 18 per cent of the farmers have reduced their loan payments, and 15 per cent have sold or pawned assets.

Conducted between June and July 2020, the researchers interviewed nearly 100 farmers from 45 out of the 47 counties.

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