Why This Year’s (Agriculture) Census is Important

Kenya will hold its first ever agriculture census this year. It will be integrated with the National Population and Housing Census which is conducted every ten years. It will involve collection of data such
as land size, use and tenure, irrigation use, crop area harvested, livestock type and number, labour and other agricultural inputs. This data will be crucial to the country as it will reinforce the role of agriculture in the country’s development. With Food Security being among the government’s priorities as laid out in the Big Four Agenda, this data will be vital in determining the next steps to achieve this goal. The last time Housing and Population Census was held in 2009, a livestock component was introduced. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recommends an agriculture census every ten years. In addition FAO has provided guidelines to ensure that data collected is comparable among countries over the years for benchmarking purposes. The United States holds it’s Agriculture Census every five years.
The census will provide an opportunity for the government in evaluating the effectiveness of some of its programs in the agriculture sector while diagnosing current problems. This will ensure that future programs and policies are evidence based and directed to the right areas. With over 70% of Kenyan food coming from small scale farmers, agriculture census data would be important in understanding their current challenges. Over 65% of rural farmers are women who do not own the land they till. Data collected from the exercise could also be key in analyzing
how our current land tenure system is affecting key populations such as youth and women involvement in agriculture and possible remedies.
To international organizations promoting the agricultural sector, this data will be useful in directing their efforts to the most needy areas and monitoring the progress of global goals for sustainable development (SDGs).
The private sector is also a major consumer of agriculture census data as investors. It aids in making commercial decisions such as location of processing factories due to proximity of raw materials and availability of labour and skills. For instance a fruit processing plant might prefer Thika due to proximity to fruit growing regions of Ukambani and Central and availability of labour while a tractor dealer would prefer Eldoret to tap into large scale farmers in the region.

Due to the numerous data points to be collected and it’s complexity, government agencies led by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics need to recruit and train competent enumerators to avoid challenges encountered in 2009.

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