Agriculture laws and policies in Kenya

Which are the current laws and policies with a direct or indirect effect on agriculture in Kenya? This article is a mini compendium of all the rules and regulations that has an influence on prices of farm inputs and outputs, public investment, allocation of resources with a net effect on costs and revenues that farmers and agribusinesses in the country can get.

There are various objectives of agriculture laws and policies to shape and regulate agribusiness development in Kenya. These goals include goals to increase productivity and income growth for smallholders, pastoralists, and fisherfolk. To enhance food security and equity. To enhance irrigation to introduce stability in agricultural output. Other objectives are to increase value addition and boost household food resilience in face of new challenges like climate change.

You can categorize the agriculture laws and policies in Kenya into following major categories.

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010

The Constitution is the foundation of public policies and legislation at the national and county levels. Its fourth Schedule sets out the functions between the National Government and the County Governments. Besides, the constitution of Kenya (COK) gives the fundamental rights and directive principles of the state policy. They include environmental rights and duties, property rights, right to food and right to water.  Other mandates in the constitution are environment, land and property as well as agricultural and rural development.

International agreements & Treaties

Section 2(5) of the COK states that the general rules of international law shall form part of the law of Kenya. As such there are treaty and conventions ratified by Kenya shall that forms part of the laws of Kenya under this Constitution. Some of them with a direct impact on agriculture are:


sustainable agribusiness development goals

Kenya is a member state of the United Nations and committed to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Some of them that has a direct influence in food and agriculture development. These are:

  • SDG 2 focuses explicitly on food by seeking to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”
  • SDG 1 focuses on poverty reduction, where agriculture and food has a key role to play.
  • Sustainable agriculture plays a central role in achieving SDG 6 on water,
  • SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production,
  • SDG 13 on climate change adaptation and mitigation and
  • SDG 15 on land use and ecosystems.
  • Sustainable management of fisheries also features prominently in SDG 14 on marine resource and oceans


The Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.

Maputo Declaration

The  Maputo Declaration of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa is a 2003 agreement to deal with the stagnation of agriculture in Africa. During the agreement, the partner states agreed to commit 10% of their public budget on agriculture in an effort to increase its productivity.

The EAC Agriculture and Rural Development Policy

The East Africa Community Agriculture and Rural Development Policy is a multi-sectoral roadmap for partner states, private sector, religious groups, NGOs, rural communities, Community based organizations, and development partners in defining interventions that will lead to attaining the intended improvements in the rural economy.

National Strategies

In its mandate to fulfil its public mandate, the national government of Kenya has the following strategies, policies and acts that has a direct effect on agriculture, they are the vision 2030, ASTGS among others. A brief explanation of each is highlighted.

The Kenya Vision 2030

Vision 2030 national strategy logo

This is the National long-term economic policy that has outlined the goals, vision and objectives of the entire country to achieve sustainable development by year 2030. In agriculture pillar, the strategy aim is to increase the productivity of crops and livestock. Introduce land use polices for better utilization of high and medium potential lands. Develop more irrigable areas in arid and semi-arid lands for both crops and livestock. And, to Improve market access for smallholders through better post-harvest and supply chain management.

Big four agenda

Since 2018, the Kenya government prioritized the big four agenda. Its main focus is food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all.


The Agricultural Sector Growth and Transformation Strategy (ASTGS) is a ten-year guide for the sector in line with the existing constitutional and legal frameworks, policies, devolved system of governance as well as regional and international commitments.

It covers a period of 2019-2029. Its aim is having a “vibrant, commercial and modern agricultural sector that sustainably supports Kenya’s development in the context of devolution, short-term national aspirations for 100% food security, and longer-term global Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the sustainable development goals (SDG) commitments” The strategy has 3 anchor areas and nine flagship projects as outlined below.

Kenya agriculture sector growth and transformation strategy (ASTGS) 2010-2029

The National Climatic Change Strategy

The Strategy sets out to reduce the vulnerability to impacts of climatic change and to catalyze transition to cleaner, lower emission and less carbon-intensive development in the country.

National Policies

The Biotechnology Policy

The policy has a purpose to improve the quality of human welfare, maximizing productivity in agriculture and industry and protecting the environment, conserving biodiversity, and bioprospecting.

The Environment and Development Policy

The goal of this policy goal is to offer a better quality of life for present and future generations through sustainable management and use of the environment and natural resources.

The Forests Policy

The 2014 policy main objective are to are to:  Increase and maintain tree and forest cover of at least ten percent of the land area of Kenya; others are to establish an enabling legislative and institutional framework for development of the forest sector.

The National Agricultural Extension Policy

The policy’s objective is to empower farmers and pastoralists by sharing information, imparting knowledge and skills and changing attitudes for efficient management of resources for improved quality of livelihoods.

The National Agricultural Research Systems Policy

Provides the foundation for research in the agricultural sector, achieving reforms in the Kenyan agricultural research systems to support the development of an innovative, commercially oriented, and modern agricultural sector.

The National Food and Nutritional Security Policy

The FNSP is a 2011 policy of the government that all Kenyans, throughout their life cycle enjoy at all times safe food in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy their nutritional needs for optimal health.

The National Land Policy

 It is the national Land Policy that will guide the country towards a sustainable and equitable use of land.

The National Livestock Policy

Also referred to as the sessional Paper Number 2 of 2008. The policy aims at achieving sustainable development of the livestock industry as well as improve and conserve animal genetic resources. The specific guidelines it contains are control of animal diseases and vectors, an improvement on the competitiveness of livestock industry, improvement of indigenous breeds, and best production systems for each agro-ecological zones. Other areas are animal nutrition and health, market integration, and provision of affordable credit to livestock farmers.

The National Pharmaceutical Policy

This is Sessional Paper Number 4 of 2012. The policy addresses policy issues concerning medicines and their use in promoting human and animal health. The paper’s objectives are achieving a continuous availability of safe, quality, and effective human and veterinary drugs in Kenya.

The National Policy for Water Resources Management and Development

The sessional paper provides to Preserve, conserve and protect available water resources and allocate it in a sustainable, rational and economical way. Supply water of good quality and in sufficient quantities to meet the various water needs. Establish an efficient and effective institutional framework to achieve a systematic development and management of the water sector. Develop a sound and sustainable financing system for effective water resources management, water supply and sanitation development.

The National Productivity Policy

The policy addresses the multiple challenges impending productivity advancement in the economy under four pillars namely: productivity culture; labor market development; technological change and innovation; and institutional and legal arrangements.

National Wildlife Conservation and Management Policy

This policy promotes the conservation and exploitation of biodiversity by protecting wild fauna and flora. The policy provide for managing wild animals to minimize damage to crops, livestock, property and loss of human life. Other areas are land-use zoning and barriers to minimize human/wildlife conflict and prompt payment of adequate compensation for any damage.

National Acts or statues

The list below has the assented acts of parliament that has a direct or indirect influence on food and agriculture market in the country.

The AFA Act

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority Act, 13 of 2013 is the law that provides for the consolidation of the laws on the regulation and promotion of agriculture generally and to provide for the establishment of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

The AFC Act

The Agricultural Finance Corporation CAP 323 provides the framework for setting up and running of the Agricultural finance corporation (AFC). The AFC roles will assist in the development of agriculture by offering loans to businesses and persons engaging in agriculture or agricultural industries.

The ADC Act

The Agricultural development corporation Act, CAP 444 provides for the establishment of the ADC and for connected purposes. ADC is to promote the production of Kenya’s essential agricultural inputs.


The Kenya Agriculture, Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) Act ,2013 provides for the establishment and functions of the KARLO. The organization and its organs are to provide for the co-ordination of agricultural research activities in Kenya.


Also the new Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) Act, Number 54 of 2012. The order establishes the inspectorate and assigns its functions. These are to coordinate all matters relating to crop pests and disease control and establish the machinery for educating the public on safe use of agro-chemicals.

The Crops Act

This act lays out the inputs, production, marketing, and distribution for scheduled crops. It provides for a Commodity Fund which would support with affordable credit and advances to farmers to buy inputs and improve farms.

The Animal Diseases Act

Cap 364 is the Act that provides for the prevention, detection, notification and control of diseases, especially notifiable diseases, and the authorization of the use of any vaccine or drugs for treatment of animals.

The Pest Control Products Act, Cap 346

The act established the Pest Control Products Board to regulates the agricultural chemicals used for the control of pests. In particular, the law provides regulations for approval, registration and distribution of pest control products.

The Animal Technicians Act 11 of 2010

The Act 11 of 2010 is the law that provides for the training, registration and licensing of animal technicians. Besides it provides for the regulation of the standards and practice of the profession of animal technicians.

The Biosafety Act

The law Regulates the introduction or release of biotechnological commodities to protect human and environmental health.

The Cooperative Societies Act

It the chapter 480 of laws pf Kenya. It is an Act of Parliament relating to the constitution, registration and regulation of co-operative societies and for purposes incidental thereto.

The Fertilizers and Animal Foodstuffs Act

Its Cap 345 of laws of Kenya. It provides for safety and to regulate the importation, manufacture and sale of agricultural fertilizers and animals foodstuffs in animals and in the human food-chain.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Cap 360

This act safeguards Good animal welfare. It prohibits any person from inflicting, causing, or if it is the owner, permitting, unnecessary pain or suffering to be inflicted on any animal.

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act

This is legislation Number 8 of 1999. It established the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). NEMA’s National Land-Use Guidelines of 2011 provides for Crop production in various agro-ecological zones. Organic farming guidelines in peri-urban areas. Soil protection, identification and mapping of flood-prone areas. Agricultural, industrial and domestic waste/effluent treatment and water harvesting and protection of riparian land reserves.

The Forests conservation and management Act

The Act of Parliament gives effect to Article 69 of the Constitution with regard to forest resources; It provides for the development, sustainable management, conservation and rational utilization of all forest resources for the socioeconomic development of the country.

The Land registration Act

It is an of parliament to revise, consolidate and rationalize the registration of titles to land, to give effect to the principles and objects of devolved government in land registration, and for connected purposes.

The Land Act

It is an of Parliament to give effect to Article 68 of the Constitution, to revise, consolidate and rationalize land laws; to provide for the sustainable administration and management of land and land-based resources, and for connected purposes.

The Law of Contracts Act, Cap 23

If you are interested in contract farming, familiarize yourself with Cap 23. It provides the general framework for contracting.  it provides that binding contracts have be written and signed by the parties.

The Micro and Small Enterprises Act

An Act of Parliament to provide for the promotion, development and regulation of micro and small enterprises; to provide for the establishment of the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority, and for connected purposes.

The public health act, Cap 242

This regulation aims at achieving good human health. It lays down rules for food hygiene and protection of foodstuffs, the keeping of animals, protection of public water supplies, the prevention and destruction of mosquitos and the abatement of nuisances including nuisances arising from sewerage. The Act establishes the Central Board of Health and a district health management board in each district. It also establishes and defines functions of health authorities

The Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act

 The Cap 254 seeks to assure safety of human food. Rules for the placing on the market of food, drugs for man and animal and chemical substances, establishes the Public Health (Standards) Board and makes otherwise provision for the control of the quality and safety of food, drugs and chemical substances to be placed on the market of Kenya.

The standards act

Cap 496 is the Act of Parliament to promote the standardisation of the specification of commodities, and to provide for the standardisation of commodities and codes of practice; to establish a Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), to define its functions and provide for its management and control

The Seeds and Plant Varieties Act

This Act provides for a process in sections 15 and 16 that may include the assessment of risks and performance of seeds of any plant, including plant imports, and an approval process before their release into farms for propagation and production.

The Veterinary Surgeons and Paraprofessionals Act

This is act number 29 of 2011. It provides the law on training, practice and conduct of animal health service providers and veterinary private practices.

The Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act.

This Cap 376 of law establishes the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) . Under the act, KWS is obligated to destroy problematic animals that have strayed on to private property. it also establishes County Conservation and Compensation Committees whose mandate is to review and recommend claims by aggrieved persons resulting from loss, including death, and damage by wildlife for payment of compensation.

County Agriculture Laws and Policies

Kenya is a two-tier governance country. The above laws and County governments are to domesticate and operationalize national public policies, including legislation, or to address matters that only affect their individual county. Counties fulfill this mandate through CIDPs and county legislation acts

County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs)

Each county must outline the national and county policies that are relevant to it to guide its development plan. These are documented in A CIDP that contains the county policy, programs, projects, and investment plans. These policy documents contain areas on agriculture development for your region. The county assembly will develop county policies guided by their CIDP. 

County Assembly Acts

The county assemblies are required by the Constitution in Article 185 (4) to receive and approve plans and policies for the management and exploitation of the county’s resources and the development and management of its infrastructure and institutions.

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