The number of formal workers in agriculture earning more than Sh100,000 monthly nearly halved last year, reflecting the impact of the weak performance of the sector.
Official data shows that the sector had 2,932 employees with a monthly pay of over Sh100,000 in 2016, down from 5,433 workers in 2015.
This means 2,501 workers slipped down the pay ladder, representing a 46 per cent drop, the steepest across all sectors of the economy.
Agriculture is Kenya’s economic backbone, accounting for about a third of the gross domestic product (GDP).
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows agriculture contracted by 1.7 per cent in the second quarter from a growth of 7.1 per cent a year earlier due to poor weather, which also affected last year’s crop.
The sector had a formal workforce of 336,746 in 2016, data from the KNBS indicates. This means the 2,932 agriculture employees in 2016 with a monthly income of above Sh100,000 accounted for less than one per cent of the sector’s total labour pool.
More than half (59 per cent) of workers in the sector are living on wages of between Sh9,000 and Sh24,000.
The drop in the high paying jobs came amid a slowdown in value added agriculture which went down to four per cent last year from seven per cent in 2015, “occasioned by insufficient rains during the short rains period.”
Production of maize, Kenya’s staple meal, dropped by 5.4 million bags to 37.1 million last year.
Besides agriculture, other drops in high paying jobs were experienced in the manufacturing sector.
Pay increases were reported in education, financial sector, wholesale, retail trade and ICT.
Overall, Kenya had a total of 2.6 million formal sector workers last year, with those in agriculture accounting for 14 per cent.
Education has the highest number of those earning Sh100,000 and above, followed by financial services sector and wholesale and retail trade in third place.
Education had 16,196 workers with jobs that paid more than Sh100,000, the number having grown the fastest from 15,587 in 2015.