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Bungoma County lies in western Kenya, within the Lake Victoria basin, and is divided into nine sub counties, all of which have enormous potential for agriculture and trade. The sub counties include Mt. Elgon, Sirisia, Kabuchai, Bumula, Kanduyi, Webuye East, Webuye West, Kimilili and Tongaren. With a population of 1.6 million, Bungoma is among the top five most populated counties in Kenya.
Although over the past decade, the county has experienced increased climate variability that has greatly influenced a change in seasons, Bungoma has traditionally experienced two rainy seasons- the long rains of March to July and short the rains coming from August to October. Over 80% of land in the county is arable and climatic conditions favor a variety of food as well as cash crops.
Among the crops grown are maize, finger millet, beans, sweet potatoes, bananas, sorghum, Irish potatoes as well as a variety of vegetables. The main cash crops include sugarcane, tobacco, coffee,tea, sunflower, cotton and palm oil. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbit and poultry are the main livestock kept in the county with indigenous chicken and cattle being the most popular.
The County Government intends to formulate supportive legislation to support the setting up of dairy development corporations. The Bungoma County Integrated Development Plan 2018-2022 also proposes establishment of dairy farm units in selected youth polytechnics, agricultural training colleges as well as technical training colleges.
These are intended to provide a ready market to farmers and facilitate value addition. Through the county’s aquaculture programmes, various types of fish such tilapia, catfish and mudfish are produced. Communities residing close to dams and main rivers also engage in fishing on subsistence basis. In a bid to diversify agricultural activities, communities living in Bungoma also engage in beekeeping although on a small scale in sub-counties such as Mt. Elgon, Sirisia and Bumula.
Machakos County lies in the eastern region of Kenya and is divided into eight subcounties namely Mavoko, Kathiani, Machakos, Matungulu, Yatta, Masinga, Mwala and Kangundo. The county’s topography is characterized by hills rising between 1800 – 2100m above sea level as well as the Yatta plateau which is elevated to about 1700m above sea level and slopes to the South East. There are isolated hills in the North West.
In the plains, the soils are well-drained, shallow, dark and red clay soils. The plains receive less rainfall in comparison to high altitude areas, which receive high rainfall. According to the County Government of Machakos,approximately 60% of total land area in Machakos is arable.
Food crops are mainly cultivated for subsistence purposes and include maize, beans, pigeon peas, green grams, cowpeas and cassava. The main cash crops are coffee, mangoes, citrus, french beans, pineapples, flowers, sorghum and vegetables. Other agricultural activities being carried out in Machakos include ranching and beekeeping.
In its 2018-2022 CIDP, the County aims to increase the productivity of arable land through use of quality farm inputs,appropriate mechanization, irrigation and good agricultural practices. A number of mitigation and adaptation measures are also being put in place to address the effects of climate change which include prolonged droughts, erratic rains and rise in average temperature all of which conspire to lower agricultural productivity.
Uasin Gishu County is located in the North Rift region and is divided into six sub counties: Turbo, Soy, Ainabkoi, Moiben, Kessess and Kapseret. The county occupies a highland plateau with altitudes falling gently from 2,700 meters above sea level to about 1,500 meters above sea level.
Lying within the Lake Victoria water catchment,the county is physiographically divided into three zones: the upper highlands, upper midlands and lower highlands. The soils consist of red loam soils, red clay soils,brown clay soils and brown loam soils. These support the growing of crops such as maize, sunflower, wheat, pyrethrum, potatoes and barley. Additionally, the soils support livestock rearing and forestry.
The county experiences high and reliable rainfall, evenly distributed throughout the year with two distinct peaks occurring between March and September as well as May and August.
Dry seasons are experienced between November and February.Temperatures range between 7 degrees Celsius and 29 degrees Celsius. These are favorable conditions for livestock keep, crop production and fish farming.
Labeled as one of Kenya’s bread baskets, the crop enterprises in Uasin Gishu include food crops,industrial crops and horticultural crops. Livestock enterprises include dairy, poultry,sheep, goats, pigs, bee keeping and fish farming.
The agriculture enterprises vary from small scale with low external inputs to highly mechanized large-scale farming with very high levels of external input. With a rich agricultural resource base, 80% of the land tenure is privately owned.
Kiambu County is located in the central region and borders Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city and the commercial hub, to the north. With a population of 2.4 million people, it is the second most populous county in Kenya after Nairobi. Kiambu is divided into 12 sub counties that include Gatundu South, Gatundu North, Juja, Thika Town, Ruiru,Githunguri, Kiambu, Kiambaa, Limuru, Kikuyu, Kabete and Lari.
The county experiences long rains between mid-March to May followed by a cold season usually with drizzles and frost during June to August and the short rains between mid-October to November. Average rainfall in the county is 1,200mm even though this varies with altitude- with higher areas receiving as much as 2,000mm and lower areas receiving as low as 600mm.
Temperature ranges from 7°C in the upper highlands to 34°C in the lower midland zones. The county is covered by three broad categories of soils which are: high level upland soils, plateau soils and volcanic footbridges soils.
These soils are of varying fertility levels with soils from high-level uplands, which are from volcanic rocks, being very fertile. Their fertility is conducive for livestock keeping and production of various crops.The main food crops grown in the county include maize, beans, Irish potatoes, bananas and vegetables.
Horticultural crop production plays an important role in the economy of Kiambu County. Major vegetables include French beans, snow peas, kales, cabbage, garden peas, tomatoes, spinach and carrot among others.
Herbs and spices grown include dhania, basil, mint, rosemary, parsley and asparagus and are marketed within the country while others are for the export market. Pineapples and mangoes are also grown in addition to avocado.
Floriculture is also practiced in various sub counties including Lari, Limuru, Thika, Juja and Ruiru. Coffee and tea are the main industrial crops grown even though macadamia is also upcoming.
Pyrethrum is also another major crop in the county. Dairy industry is the leading enterprise with nearly 70% of the farm families keeping an average of 2-3 cows under zero grazing systems.
Poultry and pig keeping come second, with egg production playing a significant role in income generation. Fish farming as well as Apiculture are also practiced.
Kisii County is located in the Nyanza region in western Kenya. The county is characterized by a hilly topography with several ridges and valleys and is traversed by permanent rivers which flow westwards into Lake Victoria.
It is divided into nine subcounties that include Bobasi, Bomachoge Borabu, Bomachoge Chache, Bonchari,Kitutu Chache North, Kitutu Chache South, Nyaribari Chache, Nyaribari Masaba and South Mugirango.
Seventy five percent of the County has red volcanic soils which are deep in organic matter and support the growing of crops such as maize, beans and potatoes. The remaining parts of the county have clay soils, red loams and sandy soils.
At the valley bottoms are black cotton soils and organic peat soils. The county experiences a highland equatorial climate with two patterns of rainfall- the long rains are received between March and June while the short rains come from September to November.
The high and relatively consistent rainfall patterns coupled with moderate temperatures are suitable for growing crops like tea, coffee, pyrethrum, maize, beans and bananas as well dairy farming.
Among the food crops produced in the county include maize, beans, finger millet,bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, arrow roots, sorghum, tomatoes, carrots,avocados and vegetables. Cash crops include coffee, tea, pyrethrum and sugarcane. Livestock kept in the county include dairy and Zebu cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys,poultry.
Livestock facilities in Kisii County include slaughterhouses, markets as well as hides and skins bandas. Fishing is mostly carried out in shallow dams and through river line fishing. Pond fish farming is also practiced in the county.
The County Government estimates that over 3,500 households are involved in the fishing sector with 3,820 fishponds spread across the county. Apiculture is also carried out in Kisii,albeit on a small scale
Kilifi County lies in the coast region of Kenya and is among the counties forming the Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani economic bloc. The six sub counties in Kilifi include Kilifi, Ganze, Malindi, Magarini, Rabai and Kaloleni. Land use patterns within the county indicate availability of a relatively high average acreage per farming household and favorable physical conditions for the production of a variety of food and cash crops. According to the County Government of Kilifi, natural pastures form almost half of the county farmland while subsistence farming takes up 21%.
A paltry 1.5% is under commercial crop production. Classified as an arid and semi-arid area, over 65% of Kilifi faces seasonal water shortages and residents of those areas opt for rain water harvesting or depend on pans for regular supply of water for domestic and livestock use.
The water pans however often dry up during the dry spells. The county also experiences floods which provide an opportunity for water harvesting and irrigation.
More than half of the land in Kilifi County is arable. Main food crops grown include cassava, maize, cow peas, rice and green grams. Fruits such as mangoes and bananas are also grown as are horticultural crops including cashew nuts and coconuts.
These provide opportunities for agribusiness. Other crops that do well within Kilifi include coconut, vegetables and rice. Livestock production also plays a pivotal role in supporting livelihoods in the county with cattle, sheep, goats and poultry being the main livestock kept by subsistence farmers.
Ranching and agriculture also contribute significant amounts of income to the economy of Kilifi. Income to households from honey production, for instance, amounted to over KES 84 million in the five years prior to 2017.
Other opportunities for agribusiness exist in fish farming which comprises fresh water aquaculture and mariculture.
Meru County is located in eastern Kenya and comprises nine sub counties, namely: Igembe North, Igembe Central, Igembe South, Tigania East, Tigania West, Buuri,Imenti Central, Imenti South and Imenti North. The county’s position on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya and the equator has highly impacted its natural and atmospheric conditions leading to a wide variety of microclimates and agroecological zones. The county’s drainage pattern is characterized by rivers and streams originating from catchment areas such as Mt. Kenya and Nyambene ranges.
Cutting through the hilly terrain on the upper to the lower zones, the rivers drain into the Tana and EwasoNyiro Rivers. The rivers form the main source of water for both domestic and agricultural use. The economy of Meru County is primarily driven by agriculture. The soils and climatic conditions of Meru County favor the growing of crops such as wheat, potatoes, millet,sorghum and maize. Key cash crops include tea, coffee, bananas and miraa.Groundnuts as well as different varieties of legumes, vegetables and fruits also do well.
Livestock production is carried out both for subsistence and commercial purposes. Cattle, goats and sheep are kept while poultry farming and bee keeping are also carried out. Over 3,000 farmers in Meru engage in fish farming.
Isiolo County lies in eastern Kenya and is divided into two sub counties: Isiolo North and Isiolo South. The county is mostly characterized by low lying plains even though the topography rises significantly in certain parts of the county. Classified as an arid and semi-arid region, the country is hot and dry for most parts of the year. It experiences two rainy seasons- the long rains occur between March and May while the short rains occur between the months of October and December.
The amount of rainfall is influenced by the topography of land- the higher ground areas nearing Mt. Kenya and Nyambene Hills receive higher rainfalls of up to 670mm per year while the drier eastern and north eastern parts of the county receive less than 300mm. The county records high temperatures throughout the year averaging 29 degrees centigrade, even though temperature is also influenced by differences in altitude.
Isiolo County records more than nine hours of sunshine per day, presenting a huge potential for harvesting of solar energy. Monsoon winds blow across the county for most part of the year and peak during the months of July to August, again presenting opportunities for tapping into wind generated energy.
Agricultural activities in the county are largely dependent on irrigation because rainfed agriculture is not sufficient in most areas. Over 2,000 hectares of land have potential for irrigation even though only up to 30% of this is under irrigation.
Even though a large part of the county is arid and cannot support rainfed agriculture, the country produces the following crops through irrigation: maize, sorghum, beans, green grams,rice, cowpeas, dolicos, kales, tomatoes, onions and watermelon.
Alongside these crops, fruit trees such as pawpaw, avocado, citrus, mango and guava are also grown. These act as windbreaks and also improve the soil fertility. Livestock production forms the backbone of the county’s economy with over 80% of inhabitants depending on it to support their livelihoods.
Nomadic pastoralism defines the lifestyle of the people of Isiolo even though it has impacted negatively on the environment over the years due to overgrazing and overstocking. Livestock kept include cattle, goats, sheep, camel and poultry. Breeds of livestock kept are mostly resistant to drought and diseases.
Even though the county has potential for beekeeping, this has not been fully utilized because of inadequate investments in this sector. The only honey refinery in Isiolo town is underutilized because of low honey production. The County Government lists Oldonyiro, Isiolo Central, Merti and Kinna as potential areas for this kind of economic activity.