Kenya’s population is currently estimated at 50 million people and is projected to be 95 million by the year 2050. Agriculture is the main livelihood for 75% of the population; however, crop yields are chronically low and many rural inhabitants are unable to improve their livelihoods as a result.
Low investment in agriculture, use of outdated farming methods, limited use of inputs, subsistence farming practices which lack diversity, and land subdivision comprise a long list of reasons why agriculture has been unable to improve the livelihoods of many rural communities. With the rising population, few opportunities for work have created an unemployment rate of approximately 70% in rural Kenya. Consequently, many rural inhabitants are forced to migrate to urban areas in search of work and a chance to support their rural families and improve their own livelihoods. However, in the urban areas, the unemployment rate is approximately 40%. Those who migrate to the cities often are the very poor among rural inhabitants and when they move to urban areas generally end up living in squalor or become homeless.
To reverse a trend that has seen a rapid rise in the number of homeless people in Kenya’s towns and cities, it is imperative that agriculture must be the focus. Rural farmers need the access and ability to utilize as many tools as possible that are necessary to improve their production capabilities and opportunity to derive livelihoods. Additionally, rural farmers need to increase the diversity of their agricultural enterprises beyond that which they use for their subsistence. Ultimately, agricultural development in rural communities needs to come from small-scale industries, which add value to agricultural produce. Small-scale agricultural-based industries would help revitalize livelihoods in rural communities by providing employment opportunities which in turn may slow the flow of migrants to urban areas.