Agricultural policy-making in Kenya: why must smallholder farmers’ agency be made central?


Policy Brief, Relational Pathways project

Smallholder farming in Kenya is key to the country’s food security and economy. Small farms account for 75% of the total agricultural output. Yet smallholder farmers’ agency has been largely neglected in the five decades of post-colonial agricultural policy-making in Kenya.

The same policies have attempted to heavily restructure smallholder production, marketing and livelihoods. Smallholders have therefore been the main target of the policy interventions. In this targeting, they have been approached primarily as ‘objects’ that lack agency, rather than as ‘subjects’ who possess a clear capacity to act.

In this policy brief, apart from pointing out the glaring historical omission of smallholders agency in the Kenyan policy processes, we consider the pathways through which smallholder farmers’ perspectives and knowledge can be included in policy going forward.