About Us

History & Evolution

KENAFF has a rich and textured history dating back to the tempestuous times just after the WWII. Founded in Nakuru as the Kenya National Farmers Union (KNFU) around 1946, its main objective was to cater for the interests of white colonial farmers. Unfortunately, KNFU remained a bastion of white farmers until Kenya’s independence in 1963. After independence indigenous Kenyan small-scale farmers stated agitating for their union; an objective that was realized in 1973 when KNFU changed its constitution to accommodate smallholder farmers. That notwithstanding, KNFU of the 1970s remained a chiefdom of large-scale farmers and continued to wield a lot of power, including in determining prices paid to farmers by commodity marketing boards.


In the thirteen years to 1997, the Union’s fortunes and status nosedived fast. The decline was informed not only by internal leadership challenges but also by the upheaval in the country’s social, economic and political dynamics. During this period, the farmers’ voice at various levels of farmer representation as well as in the marketing boards was sorely missed. Some commodity associations took it upon themselves to replace the Union in the marketing boards but owing to their dedication to specific enterprises, the effect was not as significant as the KNFU’s.


The five years to 2002 a small team of visionary leaders met and determined to revitalize KNFU. They reached out to a wide range of stakeholders including farmers, Commodity Associations, development partners and the government through the Ministry of Agriculture. By the year 2002, the visionaries had among other things decided to sharply focus on member services, adopt a business orientation (in order to diversify its revenue base) and change the Union’s name. It was felt that these changes were necessary also as a way to break from the previous 13-15 years when farmers had no voice as KNFU became rudderless and ineffective. Ultimately, in 2002, the name changed to the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP,) complete with a revival plan “Sowing the Seeds of renewal” and a new membership orientation—corporate rather than individual.


With the new energy, visionary leadership and goodwill from stakeholders, the federation was back on track, growing exponentially and bringing more commodity associations into its fold. The rejuvenated and reimagined Farmers’ Voice went ahead to ably represent farmers in the NARC government’s Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation (ERS) and later the Strategy for Revitalization of Agriculture (SRA). The progress continues apace when in 2004 the federation’s board passed a resolution to establish a business arm, KENFAP Services Limited (KSL.) KSL was mandated to conceptualize, establish and run farmer-centered businesses as a revenue stream for the federation. Subsequently, KSL continues to grow apace with businesses in the distribution of agricultural inputs, consulting and hospitality (Kilimo Grand Resort and Kilimo Talii.)


In the ensuing years, the federation witnessed phenomenal growth, particularly in membership and field staff. To consolidate and entrench this success, the board, beginning 2012, came up with “Three Point Plan” to ensure the federation’s enduring success and sustainability: (i) strengthen the federation’s business arm, (ii) procure land and put up the federation’s headquarters and (iii) bring all stakeholders in the crops, livestock, fisheries and forests and forestry products into the federation’s ambit. The three were designed to feed into each other in a synergistic loop.


Ultimately, the board bought land in Thogoto, Kiambu County just outside Nairobi and put up a magnificent facility (Farmers’ Conference Centre) to host the federation’s headquarters. Furthermore, in order to accommodate more stakeholders, the federation had a second makeover, changing its name to the KENYA National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF.) This second iteration was informed by the desire to bring together (federate) all actors in the crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry value chains in the country.


Agriculture (crops, livestock and fisheries) is the most dominant productive sector in Kenya: directly and indirectly, it contributes approximately 42% to the country’s GDP; is the dominant source of employment for about 50% of the population overall and 80% of the rural population; and, generates about 80% of the country’s food requirements. Agriculture also contributes about 65% of Kenya’s export volume and is responsible for about 60% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Cognizant of this, KENAFF, while apolitical, always supports the government of the day in its plans for the country’s socioeconomic development. KENAFF recognizes that the prerequisite for Kenya’s takeoff into a middle income economy is a transformed agricultural sector.


For the 2018—2030 period, the federation’s planning is informed by Kenya Vision 2030, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. In the medium term, the federation’s 2018—2022 Strategic Plan focuses on supporting the government’s Big Four Agenda (particularly the agenda on food and nutrition security as well as manufacturing), fully devolving to the counties (with the goal to enable KENAFF County chapters fully engage county governments since agriculture is a devolved function under the 2010 Kenya Constitution); building structures (at the national and county levels) to support youth enterprise in agriculture; work with members across the country to build resilience to the effects of Climate Change; and continue strengthening the federation’s business arm.