The Political Economy of Kenya’s Agricultural Transformation: A Comparative Value Chains Approach


December 20, 2022 - Danielle Resnick, Steve Haggblade, Mercy Kamau, and Isaac Minde


  • Political economy dynamics play a major role in policy decisions related to agricultural growth and transformation in many countries.
  • This note examines how such dynamics affect the choice and implementation of agricultural transformation policies in Kenya
  • To do so, the political economy of value chains (PEVAC) framework is introduced, which combines features of conventional value chain studies with different traditions in the political economy discipline.
  • The PEVAC is then applied to three contrasting agricultural value chains in Kenya: beef, fruits and vegetables, and sorghum. In doing so, the paper draws on existing literature and associated secondary data, focus group discussions conducted with key experts in each value chain, and semi-structured interviews with approximately 40 value chain participants conducted in Kenya during May, 2022.
  • The PEVAC reveals how interactions among different interest groups within the value chains—and vis-à-vis political elites and the bureaucracy—shape decisions related to fiscal policies (e.g. cess, excise tax, and import duties), food safety standards and enforcement, productivity-enhancing inputs, public infrastructure investments, and extension services.
  • Overall, PEVAC offers a holistic framework that is useful across different value chains and political systems that helps delineate not only which types of policy changes are needed but also whether they are likely to be politically feasible.


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