Country Focus Data: Kenya

by Mindy Dake
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The Republic of Kenya, in east Africa, shares borders with five countries and the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Nairobi.
Demography: Population (1994), 28.2 million, 3% annual growth rate (1994 estimate); 22% urban; Swahili and English, official languages; Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim.
Geography: 582,650 square km total area; 536 km coastline; tropical climate along coast, arid in interior.
Government: Republic. Chief of state and head of government is President Daniel Teroitich Arap Moi.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, National Cereals and Produce Board (N.C.P.B.).
Economy: Mixed economy, blending private sector and parastatal activities. Agriculture accounts for about 25% of gross national product and employs 80% of the workforce.
Kenya's high population growth rate has constrained economic growth. A lack of investment and monetary assistance also has hurt; in the early 1990s, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and western donor nations withheld support in disagreement with government macroeconomic policies. Although some reform steps have been taken in the past three years — including substantial privatization of Kenya's grain markets in 1993 — further structural adjustments are necessary to assure investment and positive economic growth over the medium term.
G.N.P. per capita: U.S.$270 (1993 estimate); 1993 G.N.P. growth rate, 0.5%.
Currency: Kenyan shilling; March 1995 exchange rate: about 42 shillings per U.S. dollar.
Major crops: White maize, sugar, coffee and tea.
Maize: White maize is Kenya's most important crop and main staple. Successful harvests depend on adequate precipitation during two rainy seasons, and droughts occur periodically, most recently during the 1993-94 season.
Annual maize production in the past five years has averaged 2.43 million tonnes, and consumption has averaged 2.9 million. Except in drought years, Kenya's annual production generally is adequate to limit imports to an average of 10% of total consumption.
Wheat: Annual Kenyan wheat production averages about 200,000 tonnes, while consumption averages nearly 600,000 tonnes.
Even though maize is the predominant food grain, Kenya's per capita consumption of wheat, at 21 kilograms, is high relative to neighboring countries. But wheat-based foods still are considered luxury or convenience items, and consumption is extremely price sensitive.
Livestock: Beef is the primary meat consumed and accounts for 70% of total meat production. Smallholding farms producing pasture-fed cattle predominate, with large-scale ranching accounting for about 25% of beef production.
In 1993, the livestock and meat marketing system was liberalized with the collapse of the Kenya Meat Commission, which had enjoyed a monopoly over slaughter and domestic and export meat marketing. A competitive system is expected to increase production and consumption over the longer term, but short term, the livestock sector continues to suffer from inadequate credit and disease problems.
The commercial poultry industry is limited to serving urban customers; the predominant production system involves local scavenger-fed poultry raised by rural households.
Transportation: 2,040 km of 1-meter gauge railroad; 64,590 km of highways, with 7,000 paved; major ports on the Indian Ocean are Mombasa and Lamu.