NewsEast & Horn AfricaKenya: Strong agricultural yields boost 2015 economic growth


Posted on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 12:12

Kenya: Strong agricultural yields boost 2015 economic growth

By Duncan Miriri

File photo©Ilya Gridneff/AP/SIPAKenya's economy grew by 5.6 percent last year, slightly faster than the year before, after abundant rains helped boost the production of vital exports such as tea and flowers, the statistics office said on Tuesday.

The agricultural sector, which contributes nearly a quarter of Kenya's economic output, also grew 5.6 percent in 2015 from 3.5 percent the previous year, the director general of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, told a news briefing.

This was partly influenced by abundant rainfall characterised by the el Nino weather phenomenon


"This was partly influenced by abundant rainfall characterised by the el Nino weather phenomenon," Zachary Mwangi said. Kenya relies heavily on exports of tea and coffee, as well horticultural produce, such as cut flowers.

Kenya outpaced Sub-Saharan Africa's average growth of 3.8 percent in 2015, despite the tourist industry being hit by fears of militant attacks. The East Africa country had recorded 5.3 percent economic growth in 2014.

Kenya does not rely on mineral exports that have been battered on world markets and, as an oil importer, has been helped by a fall in crude prices - helping it outperform its peers.

However, Mwangi said the farm sector's growth was likely to fall in 2016 because rainfall was unlikely to match last year's levels and could prove lower than normal. Forecasts show some key crop growing areas may not get adequate rains as the year progresses, he said.

Inflation, which eased to an average of 6.6 percent in 2015 from 6.9 percent a year earlier, was expected to decline further in 2016, keeping well within the central bank's target band of 2.5 to 7.5 percent, Mwangi said.

Despite expansion in some other sectors, tourism continued to suffer from worries about security after a spate of attacks in the past two years or more by Islamist militants, he said. Visitors dropped 12.6 percent to 1.18 million during the year while earnings edged down 2.9 percent to 84.6 billion shillings ($837.6 million).

The balance of trade improved, but still recorded a deficit of 997 billion shillings in 2015 from 1.081 trillion shillings the previous year. Exports in the period rose 8.2 percent and imports decreased by 2.5 percent, the director general said.

The decline in imports was driven by the drop in prices of oil, which makes up the bulk of Kenyan imports. 

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