Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Kenya lies astride the equator on the eastern coast of Africa.
It is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east,
Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the
northwest, with the Indian Ocean running down the southeast border.
Kenya covers an area of 582,646 km2 measuring about 890 km east to
west and 1,030 km from north to south. The country enjoys a
tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate
inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the
Agriculture is a cornerstone of Kenya's economy employing over
three quarters of the population (IFOAM 2003). More than 50 % of
export earnings and 24 % of GDP are attributed to agricultural
products. Tea, coffee, tobacco, palm oil, cashew nuts, sisal and
pyrethrum create the largest profit for Kenya. Exports of fresh
fruits and vegetables are also attracting an increasing amount of
foreign attention and money. The primary food crops are maize,
potatoes, beans, cabbages and fruits (FAO, 14.07.2006). Although
subsistence farming still represents half of agricultural output,
the sector includes many large-scale commercial farms, plantations
and specialist horticultural units.
Overview of organic farming
The organic sector in Kenya is still relatively small but
growing fast. Over 182,000 hectares of land are under organic
management, which accounts for 0.69 % of the total agricultural
area in Kenya. About 30,000 farms have changed over to organic
cultivation methods so far (IFOAM & FiBL 2006). Many of the
exporters of organic produce are large-scale farmers, already
engaged in the export agriculture and horticulture, who are
diversifying into organic production to meet demand from their
established customers (IFOAM 2003).
Key organic products
Certified organic produce from Kenya includes fresh vegetables,
fruits, coffee, tea, beans and nuts (macadamia, cashew, shea).
Since no significant domestic market exists, Kenyan organic
agriculture principally targets export markets, predominantly in
the European Union and Japan (IFOAM 2003). In recent years, organic
trade has developed beyond traditional export crops to include
other products such as essential oils, dried herbs and spices, as
well as products for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. In
these new sectors, smallholder farms possess a relatively higher
market share (UNEP/UNCTAD 2006).
Small-scale organic farmers in Kenya have formed a national
representative organization, the Kenya Organic Farmers Association
(KOFA). Larger companies and commercial farmers who are already in
the export market have organized themselves into the Kenya Organic
Producers Association (KOPA). In 2004, organic agriculture
stakeholders in Kenya, including KOPA and KOFA, formed the umbrella
network KOAN to support the successful growth of the sector
The Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) aims at developing
and promoting local and export markets, supporting development of
affordable local certification capacity and creating awareness of
market opportunities in the organic sector.
Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN)
Environment Liaison Centre International
P.O. Box 72461, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-576114, 576154 Fax: 254-2-562175
The Kenya organic agriculture sector has been receiving support
from the following external organisations amongst others:
Capacity Building Task
Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF)Organic Food
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM)International Trade
Centre (ITC)Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO)United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP)
- FAO, 14.07.2006: Key Statistics of Food and Agriculture
External Trade. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United
Nations (FAO), Statistics Division. URL:
- IFOAM (2003): Organic and Like-Minded Movements in Africa.
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM),
IFOAM & FiBL (2006): The World of Organic Agriculture.
Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. International Federation of
Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn & Research
Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, pp. 27-35.
- UNEP/UNCTAD (2006): Overview of the Current State of Organic
Agriculture in Kenya, Uganda and the Republic of Tanzania and the
Opportunities for Regional Harmonization. Capacity Building Task
Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF), UNEP &