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    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 country.

    Agricultural sector

    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).

    The network

    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 (UNEP/UNCTAD 2006).

    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
    Email: koansecretariat@elci.org
    Website: www.koan.co.ke 

    External Support

    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 (OFF)
    International 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: www.fao.org/es/ess/toptrade/trade.asp?dir=exp&country=3&ryear=2004 and www.fao.org/es/ess/top/country.html?lang=en 

    - IFOAM (2003): Organic and Like-Minded Movements in Africa. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn, pp.102-108.

     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 & UNCTAD.

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