Hope for Millions

How Modern Agriculture Technology is Changing the Face of Kenya

Final Paper

HUMN 432 Section E Summer 2011 Session B

Professor:  Stuart Vanorny


Team B

Team Leader:  Douglas Dodd
Robert Colee, Elliot Diaz, Deanna Dulaigh Bates, Ralph Dyson, Steve Ferguson



Introduction – (Doug Dodd)

Every day on a television somewhere in the US an ad runs that states, “Just a dollar a day can feed a hungry child in Africa.”   Kenya is one of the places   to where those dollars were destined.          .   We have all seen the pictures of poverty stricken and starving children, but how did they get this way and how can we really help them?

In the kitchen of my grandparents’ home used to hang a sign, “Give a man a fish you feed him for a day.  Teach him to fish you feed him for life.”   This saying applies even more to the situation in Africa and especially to Kenya today.  The people of Kenya discovered that by applying modern science and education they could feed their own people and put a stop to the suffering caused repeated cycles of starvation and death.

But how could a poor country with little or no modern technology accomplish what so many of their neighbors have been unable or unwilling to do?  How do you take dry arid land and turn it into productive farm land?  The hurdles were tremendous, but the reward of self-sufficiency was worth all the effort and sacrifices the people of Kenya made along their journey to change the face of their country and in doing so they showed for the rest of the world that we truly can put an end to starvation.

Description of Kenya – (Ralph Dyson)


Kenya is a country       located on the east-central side of the African continent. Kenya has four other countries that boarder its territory, they would include; Somalia to the south east, Ethiopia directly east, South Sudan off to the northwest, and finally United Republic of Tanzania which resides south of Kenya.  Kenya has a very lush and abundant land mass that is fed by the Lake Victoria Basin.  The eastern side of the country reveals the Great Rift Valley which begins in the African country of Mozambique and continues south to Ethiopia. The western belt of the country offers the highlands that intersect from the coastal region. The land mass of the country encompasses over two hundred square miles of the continent.   The capital of the country is Nairobi.  This city has an urban population of more than three millioncitizens.  Nairobi from the latest world statistics is considered to be the forty-seventh largest city in the world.  The city’s growth rate is expected to be around eight percent between now and 2020. 

The People of Kenya

“Forty-one percent of Kenya’s population lives in cities. Rural Kenyans generally live with their extended family in a cluster of huts, which provides shelter and symbolizes the closeness of the people living there.” (worldvision, 2011) With the rural living, many of the people have to work together to become resourceful to support their lifestyle by way of farming.  As a result of the aforementioned percentages many of Kenya’s citizens live below the poverty line.  Growing up in Kenya does not provide its people with very many modern devices as would some countries towards the west.  Many of the people have to live off what the land can provide by way of farm or herding of animal that graze on the grasslands. As with any individual making their livelihood off the land it can be a difficult life, because you are depended upon what your crops yield or what you herd can provide.  
            The people of Kenya are made up of over 40 different ethnic groups, but the more dominant group would be the Bantu. “The estimated proportions of the major groups are Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, and Meru 6%. Other Africans constitute 15% of the total population.”
 (Inc, 2011) This group of people is comprised of the Kikuyu, Kamba, and Luhya.  

The Economics of Kenya

The Kenyan economy is based off on market-based system, which means the price of goods and or services will be calculated by the free price system.  With that in mind Kenya has several industries that help the bottom line of the Gross National Product (GNP).  The largest contributor to the GNP is the services sector due to Kenya’s tourism.  The areas that attracted people to visit the country are the coastal beaches on the eastside of the country, along with gaming reserve that is housed in the Tsavo National Park.  This industry has hit a minor decline due to the terrorist activity that involved the United States Embassy in Nairobi in the late 1990.  Although these unfortunate events have happened, this opened the country's eye on how their security has been constructed.  Kenya has since the late 1990’s Kenya has instituted several new law enforcement agendas to prevent any additional security risk.  This industry produces over 62% of Kenya’s GNP. 
        The second largest industry that continues to grow for Kenya is Agriculture.  This sector would include everything from farming to forestry and fishing.  Recent reports show fishing comprises 24% of the nation’s GNP. Over the next couple of years, it is expected that the Agriculture sector will grow by 5%.  The crops that are abundant within the regions that have produced a profit are as follows: Coconuts, cashews, pineapples, cotton, sugarcane, sisal and corn.
       Kenya also has a manufacturing sector that is involved in the production of beer, grain milling and sugarcane processing.  The country also has its hands in the refining of crude oil and other petroleum products.  Moreover, the country has begun to explorer manufacturing of household goods, car parts and farming tools. This sector has contributed to about 14% to the GNP.  

Development of Agricultural Technology – (Robert Colee)

Kenya is dependent upon rain  dependent agriculture and drought spells severely affect production. There have been many instances of starvation in the past. In many cases water has to be carried long distances by hand in order to provide even modest attempts at irrigation.

The beginning of the modern era in Kenya in regards to agriculture began in the last years of the nineteenth century with the advent of European settlement and farming. The Agricultural and Horticultural Society was formed in 1901 and encouraged settlement in the highlands. Production of vegetables, cereals, fruits, coffee, cotton, rubber, vanilla, breeding of farm stock and drought animals, dairy production and the culture of flowers was focused on. (Nairobi International Trade Fair, 2010)

Kenya, in regards to its production of wheat has employed relatively large-scale farming and state-of-the-art techniques throughout most of the twentieth century.  This country has collaborated in scientific endeavors to invent and implement new mechanical, chemical and biological technology. (Makanda, 2000)

Small scale farming is the backbone of agriculture in Kenya and is largely dominated by women at an estimated 82% of that work force. While in the past this was considered subsistence level farming the latest trends are to incorporate these small plots into the larger agribusiness community in order to give a better profit margin by eliminating many of the middlemen that cut into those profits. The Coca Cola Corporation has been aiding in these efforts (Business Daily Africa, 2010).

Kenya is roughly 224,080 square miles in size with a population of around 39 million people.  The topography ranges from a peak altitude of 9,000 feet to sea level. The climate is tropical to the south, west and central regions while it is arid and semi-arid to the north and northeast.

            Beginning in 2003 and running through 2007, then president Kibaki inaugurated the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation. Under this new policy, agriculture was given the greatest attention. Going hand in hand with this, the Minister of Energy created over 160 new rural electrification projects.

In 2007, voting irregularities led to nationwide riots and a new constitution was enacted that devolves power to the local authorities and enshrines a bill of rights. In spite of political changes Kenya carries on.

Several innovations have led to a new technology called drip irrigation. Scientific experiments have been conducted to measure the water used and to study efficiency of crop production.  In drip irrigation’s most basic form a farmer can buy a bucket that comes in a kit with hose and drip nozzles that can produce about 200 plants. This bucket drip system can be bought for around $15          , is fairly easily installed and adapted to the land’s topography. This bucket still has to be filled with water by hand or with a pump. The next upscale kit sells for around $100 and can supply five times the number of plants thus increasing yields and profit margin. This may still have to be filled by hand or a pump. Both these methods insure that there is a more predictable supply of water to the plants. In some areas pumps are employed that require electricity to move the water longer distances from some available source. Where there is no rural electricity, electric generators are sometimes used. These methods require money on an ongoing basis to run the pumps and this decreases the profit margin.

Looking for a renewable electrical source to power the water pumps, solar voltaic cells       were introduced to provide solar powered drip irrigation. Many government and non-government organizations have been contributing to Kenya’s efforts including the United Nations and the World Bank.  

Solar cells convert sunlight in the day into electricity which charges batteries. These batteries then run the pumps that feed the drip irrigation systems. A typical solar array will last up to 20 years and basically has a onetime price. Prices are constantly dropping on solar panels because of increases in production of these panels. Solar panels were developed for the race to space in the 1950s and the technology keeps evolving into more efficient and higher yield units at a lower price. Research is also being done on other methods of solar power and alternate energy in general.

One other benefit of solar electric production is that in many cases surplus power can be used to power some lights, radios, telecommunications as well as computers in areas that never had these technologies readily available. In some areas just a central meeting hall may have these enhancements of surplus electricity from the sun.

Impact of Agricultural Technology on Kenya

Economy Impact Agriculture is Having on Kenya  -   (Steve Ferguson)

The impact of agriculture on the Kenyan economy is evident because it is the dominant export from Kenya. It is a staple of the economy for the country and region. Agriculture impacts the economy in other ways such as providing raw materials for the manufacturing sector. This helps stimulate industrial growth and non-farm incomes as well as employment (C.K. Lagat, 2007).  Kenya is the regional hub for trade and finance for East Africa with agriculture being the number one export. It is crucial for technological advancement in this field to continue. The country faces many obstacles that affect economic growth that need to be addressed in order for the country to prosper. Kenya’s reliance on agriculture for its economic stability has some benefits but there are negatives as well.

            One obstacle to the Kenyan economy is corruption. The Kenyan government is very corrupt and has been marked by scandal and corruption for years. In 2006, the World Bank and IMF delayed loans pending action by the government due to its corruption (USGOV,CIA, 2011).  Over 50% of the population of Kenya lives below the poverty level. This is a huge statement as the labor force consists of 17.9 million people. The poverty statistics are due in part because of the corruption of the government. This corruption is evident from the country’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta. He came into power in 1963 after Kenya gained its independence. Rather than return the most fertile lands that had been stolen by European colonizers to the former owners, President Kenyatta kept the majority of the land himself and gave the rest to his fellow tribesmen.

            Another obstacle facing the economic stability of Kenya is their reliance on agriculture. Agricultural products make up 22% to 27% of the GDP of Kenya.  Because of this, the economy is vulnerable to market fluctuations.  Factors outside the realm of human control such as drought, disease, and other natural causes, can have huge impacts on the economy. The drought of 1999-2000 caused serious damage to the economy because of the impact to crops.  Because of a lack of rainfall, a majority of the population is forced to live in a few areas which also affect agricultural production and the economy. Because the country is over-reliant on its agricultural output, economic growth is hampered.

            Kenya also benefits from its agricultural production.  In 2009, Kenya’s exports grossed over 4.5 billion dollars and were projected to bring in 4.9 billion in 2010 (USGOV,CIA, 2011).   Advancements in agricultural technology have helped the country grow better crops and become more efficient.  Technology such as drip irrigation has improved the economy by allowing farmers to conserve water and farm in arid lands. Gardening was improved during the dry season which allows farmers to earn more money.

            Kenya produces several products. These include tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beef, pork, and poultry. Some of the export commodities include tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products, fish, and cement. Tea is one of the biggest exports from the country. Kenya, which manufactures black tea opposed to green tea, is the world’s third largest producer and leading exporter of black tea (Kenyaspace, 2011).  The workers are very meticulous in harvesting the leaves. They ensure that only the choicest upper two leaves and a bud are picked. Tea is grown around the highland areas in the red fertile soil at altitudes that range from 1500 to 2,700 meters above sea level. Advancements in technology have helped the production of these goods which in turns helps the economy become more stable.

                        Aside from all the products that are produced in the country, there is still a need for imported commodities. Kenya imports commodities such as palm oil, wheat, refined sugar, tobacco, and milled rice to name a few.  Imports place a large burden on the Kenyan economy. Kenya spent an estimated $ 10.6 billion on imports in 2010. Agricultural imports make up about 8% of the total products coming into the country.  Wheat is one example where proper machinery and repair can help increase the country’s output and help reduce dependence on outside sources.

Several technologies can assist Kenya in its agricultural production which will translate into a better economy. Machinery and repair are one example and are essential to increase agricultural production.  Properly calibrated machinery can assist in the planting and fertilizing of crops. Machines also help with proper harvesting by allowing farmers to gather crops faster. New irrigation techniques can help supply and conserve water for the area to produce a better crop yield over a longer period of time. The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) is actively pursuing further research and development in agricultural technology. They realize that more technology will help increase food security and thereby contribute to the national goal of improved livelihood of Kenyans. Future technologies are also being considered such as crop resistance/tolerance breeding. The government is very supportive of genetically modified foods. The Minister for Agriculture, William Ruto, has publically expressed his support of GMOs and has considered government legislation to force the issue. All of these efforts will improve Kenya’s economy by providing more stable and bountiful crops.

 Technological advancements in agriculture must continue in order for the country to continue to produce goods which not only provide income for the country but also feeds its people. Technologies such as drip irrigation can help the country produce crops in arid lands. Proper machinery and repair can help crops reach maximum potential. A resistance/tolerance breeding will provide a stronger crop. Kenya faces several challenges in its efforts to become more economically stable such as government corruption, irregular rainfall, and market variation. Technological advancements in the agricultural sector will allow Kenya to combat these issues and help the economy continue to grow. 

Government Role in Improving and Controlling Agriculture Development – (Douglas Dodd)

Kenya’s current government is relatively stable and functions with a decent amount of efficiency.  The President has powers similar to our President and to the Prime Minister of Britain.  This has not always been the case, as in the 1990’s Kenya was ruled by an oppressive president that allowed the infrastructure to fall apart and corruption to rule. Several presidents followed all of whom promised change but few delivered, creating chaos and disorder in the government of the country. Finally, in 2010 a new constitution was drafted and the government set about taking care of their people.

Throughout their history the people of Kenya have fought draught and hunger, struggling to feed themselves and have suffered devastating poverty.  In 2005, a drought struck Kenya that put over 2.5 million Kenyans in a life and death struggle against starvation.  In keeping with their hopes of rebuilding their country, the government of Kenya fought back with several programs developed especially to stimulate the growth of their agriculture.

The government formed several sectors dedicated to improving agriculture throughout the country.  The Ministry of Agriculture, The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, The National Irrigation Board are among the agencies all dedicated to improving agricultural technologies and agricultural production.

The Ministry of Agriculture strives to improve the livelihoods of all Kenyans by helping to create competitive agriculture through support services and ensuring sustainable natural resources management. (Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Kenya, 2011)

The National Irrigation Board is dedicated to developing, promoting and improving irrigated agriculture through sustainable irrigation and drainage in Kenya. (National Irrigation Board, 2011)

While there have been several programs, most have had little real benefit.  They have been designed as test programs to study the impact modern technology or programs would have on the overall production of agriculture.  There are only few that have had significant impact.

The Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion Unit Project was developed to increase the livelihood of horticulture smallholders and provide nationwide support for them.   By providing training, support infrastructure assistance they were able to increase the average income of farmers by over 106% between 2006 and 2009. (Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Kenya, 2011)

The Njaa Marufuku Kenya (NMK) Programme began in 2005 and was a 10-year action plan for hunger eradication in Kenya.  It was a comprehensive plan to help improve the food security of the poor in Kenya. Food security, the government felt, was essential to their long term goals.  Food security represents the ability to ride out changes in production due to drought and other circumstances by decentralizing production and providing reserves of food and water.  Parts of this plan were programs to fund small scale irrigation, agro-processing, environmental conservation and water harvesting technologies in the hardest and poorest regions.  This initiative has resulted in helping  to improve 77,140 small-scale farms since 2005. (Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Kenya, 2011).

Understanding that it was not enough to make existing farms more efficient and facing expanding populations and dwindling land suitable to agriculture, the government launched the Air Lands Resource Management Project.   The idea being was to plan and implement activities to make the best long term use of soils, water, vegetation, livestock, agriculture, wildlife and humans in order to achieve sustainable development.  By regulating where and what type of growth and expansion took place, they could prevent populations expanding to locations where food could not be grown to support them, or misusing  resources thereby further increasing poverty and starvation. (Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Kenya, 2011)

Through its different programs, the government and ministries strive to promote the production of food and to embrace new methodology and technology that will further increase their citizens’ ability to become self-sufficient and to be able to enjoy food security.

Once they understood that there are many factors that can be controlled by government intervention the people of Kenya took charge of their own destiny.  By embracing new technologies to help increase agriculture growth in their country, enacting new programs and legislation and encouraging their people, the government has helped to drag thousands of their citizens out of starvation and poverty.   As a result of their efforts Kenya into not just a country able to feed themselves, but they have also become an exporter of agricultural products and with a steadily increasing economy.

Impact of Agricultural Technology on Education, Religion, and Culture in Kenya. –(Elliot Diaz)

The education in Kenya has grown and  has establish a new model where individual farmers are trained so that they can themselves train fellow farmers is gaining ground in Kenya, known as farmer to farmer extension (FFE) and being driven by the government’s shortage of extension workers to meet the rising interest by farmers in modern farming. NGO’s and research institution specializing in agriculture are embracing the model as a way of helping them reach more farmers in less time and with limited resources, with some of the NGOs recording huge number of farmers taking up the model. Bridge net an NGO that teaches farmers about tissue culture banana and horticultural farming declares it has now trained over 8,000 farmers in Central Kenya under the FFE model.  FFSs were shown to be especially beneficial to women, people with low literacy levels, and farmers with medium-size land holdings. .The majority of students are female, which has resulted in role reversal, such as women being the bread winner and establishing independent living. FFS participants had significant differences in outcomes with respect to value of crops produced per acre, livestock value gain per capita, and agricultural income per capita. FFSs had a greater impact on crop productivity for those in the middle land area. (Nyariki, 2011)

 Participation in FFSs increased income by 61 percent when pooling the three countries. FFSs improved income and productivity overall, but differences were seen at the country level. Participation in FFSs led to increased production, productivity, and income in nearly all cases: Kenya, Tanzania, and at the project level (all three countries combined). The most significant change was seen in Kenya for crops (80 percent increase) and in Tanzania for agricultural income (more than 100 percent increase). A lack of significant increases in Uganda was likely due to Uganda’s National Agricultural Advisory Services. When disaggregating by gender, however, female-headed households benefited significantly more than male-headed households in Uganda.

The vast majority of Kenyans are Christians.  Other well established African religions and denominations include the African Inland Church (AIC), Seventh Day Adventists (SDA), and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA).In addition, there are a number of Evangelical churches and Independent African Christian churches. Rituals, particularly animal sacrifices are an important aspect of indigenous religions in Kenya. There are different rituals for different occasions like the conventional religions; they imbue their followers with a sense of morality. The supernatural being in African religions is often a supreme God or several gods for various aspects such as harvests and life. Nevertheless, indigenous religion is viewed with a lot of suspicion and is frequently equated with the loathed devil worship in the country. Ironically, however, many of the country's Christians still carry out some of the traditional rituals. This shows how open minded they are to learning new things, but also shows that there heart is in their roots. Rituals, particularly animal sacrifices are an important aspect of indigenous religions in Kenya. There are different rituals for different occasions namely; birth, death, marriage, and harvest.

Most Kenyans farm for a living. However, only15% of Kenya's total land area is useful for farming, mostly in the Western Highlands around Lake Victoria, Mount Kenya, and along the coast. On traditional farms, Kenyans still use ancient farming methods. .

 The system of education is  an 8- 4 - 4 system of formal education. The new system was intended to meet the increasing demands for technically and professionally qualified people. Today, more than 6 million Kenyans are enrolled in schools throughout the country, and adult literacy rates are about 60 percent for men and 40 percent for women.

Since 1970 there has been a tremendous expansion in universities in response to the high demand for university education in Kenya. The country now has five public universities. The more recently established universities give greater emphasis to technology and science-oriented degrees. In addition there are ten private universities in the country offering a range of degrees. As a result the education system has been affected to accommodate agriculturalist. The students as a result become better farmers, who as result have greater success in there harvest which in turns brings income to the home and helps build a stronger economy through the nation. Imagine that investing in students builds a better future for their country.  Imagine that now only if we were to start to invest in our people this way.


Moral and Ethical Issues – (Deanna Bates)

In its broadest sense, ethics is defined as the study of right and wrong conduct.   Dictators, political leaders and even presidents have twisted around this meaning to suit their own political agendas.   Inevitably the people are always the one to pay the price.  In 1990, Kenya’s government fell into corruption and ruin.  The presidents who followed only continued the bludgeoning of the country’s finances and infrastructure.  Kenya’s infrastructure was extremely weak and because of this Kenya was ill prepared for the drought of 2005-2007, which took a huge toll on the population from starvation.  To Kenya’s credit, beaten down and starving as they were, they managed to rise up against the odds and their corrupt government.  In the last two decades, Kenya has since worked extremely hard to put ethics and morals at the forefront of their decision making process.  One way they have accomplished this is by allowing several organizations to form whose single utilitarianism goal is to help the people of Kenya.  In 2007, President Kibaki led the way by inaugurating the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation.  Since then several other groups such as KARI, The Ministry of Agriculture, The Ministry of Water and Irrigation, The National Irrigation Board have been formed, all with the goal to help Kenyans help themselves.

Ethical and moral decisions should take into consideration any violations of established world orders.  For example, if a farmer in Kenya is fortunate enough to possess a drip irrigation system, but he needs electricity to run the system he has, at what price is the system productive or not?  No country has the right to pollute or overuse natural resources or pollute the resources for the rest of the world, even in the effort to save their country.  When this problem occurs as it has in the US, China and other industrialized nations, it becomes an ethical issue for the world to have to deal with.  Is it any wonder why the US has so many people so frustrated?  The US is home to only 20% of the world’s population, yet it uses 70% of the world’s resources and is dumping residue not only all over the earth and sky, but in the biosphere as well.  This can compound the difficulties of the farmers in Kenya trying to grow crops when the US food production plant up the river has polluted the river that may be used for irrigation.   Whether these actions were the result of unethical greed or ignorance on the part of the abusers, the fact remains that the world is going to pay for someone’s mistakes for years, probably decades to come.

Over the course of history there have been several at-risk technologies.  This has not changed in the present day, but rather to the contrary, present day technologies are compounding at an astonishing rate and not only individuals, but countries are faced with an ever increasing responsibility to follow a stricter guideline than ever before in gathering all the facts, studying them well and keeping an open mind before making a decision.  There are several decisions that might appear to provide only good technology.  Nuclear energy can provide a mass amount of clean, cheap energy for the exponential growth of a nation.  Building dams on large waterways can provide a large amount of clean energy.  Cattle ranching in Brazil can provide much needed jobs for a poverty stricken people.  And pesticides may save a crop of corn from the bugs that would otherwise devour it.  All of these “good” provisions have an equally, if not more so, devastatingly “bad” side that should accompany the facts during any presentation.  It is safe to say that every decision comes with a price.

Kenya is a third world country and is desperately trying to feed its people.  Countries such as Kenya are at extreme disadvantage in doing so for several reasons.  One of those reasons is because they do not have the technology to grow as much food on the land they have with the short supply of water they must deal with.   Would they be a country that over uses growth hormones, pesticides in a desperate attempt to feed their country?  Do the means justify the end?

The earth has become a very small place in recent years.  It is not acceptable to only care for that which occurs within your borders.  All nations must be aware of the advancement and needs their neighbors struggle with.  Hunger knows no boundaries.   No person or country is going to sit by and watch other nations eat and prosper without taking drastic measures to try and attain the same things.  The consequentialist question or problem is to know what those consequences might at the onset and set out in an effort to prevent them in the first place.

Conclusion – (Deanna Bates)

The people of Kenya faced government corruption, drought among other devastations.  They rose above the corruption, have started to rebuild their infrastructure and currently are producing enough food through new technology and drip irrigation for one farmer to feed 106 people.  They have dedicated themselves to solving the problem of starvation in their country and in doing so have helped to pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty and death that had plagued them for hundreds of years.  In the global interest of setting an example for all hungry nations to follow, Kenya is leading the way in how to apply simple technology in order to feed themselves.  In doing so, they provide hope for millions more people throughout the entire world that their model can be duplicated.






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