Circular Economy in the Horticulture Sector: An Exploratory Study of the Smallholder Farmers in the Horticulture Sector in Kenya

Mathilde Thorup & Emilie Hoch Thamdrup

Student thesis: Master thesis


This puts an enormous pressure on its agricultural sector in terms of producing enough food without undermining the environment and the country’s resources. In order to address this challenge, circular economy has been presented as a promising approach incorporating both environmental, social and economic aspects. Circular economy in the agricultural sector is an understudied approach making it relevant to explore. On this basis, this study aims to investigate the main determinants and their impacts on the circular economy adoption amongst the smallholder horticulture farmers in Kenya. Through six interviews with Kenya horticulture farmers and four key informant interviews, we were able to identify seven main determinants including existing knowledge and awareness; social capital, norms and traditions; infrastructure; market conditions and information; institutions and knowledge transfer; financial access and incentives; and climate change. Analysing each determinant, we demonstrate how they act as drivers, barriers or both. We further illustrate their interconnectedness. It is revealed that the majority of the determinants impede the transition toward more circular practices. Particularly traditional farming practices, lack of governmental support and enforcement, poor infrastructure, climate change, lack of market for sustainable products and limited access to finance hinder the transition. Opposite, social capital, the engagement of NGOs and export companies as well as some traditional farming practices are found to be drivers of the adoption. Even though there is still a long way to go before a successful adoption is reached, the approach should not be neglected. The circular economy practices that are already adopted amongst the smallholder farmers are found to have several positive impacts related to the environment, productivity, food safety and the economy. However, the concept needs to be further developed within the agricultural sector. We emphasise the importance of taking the context into consideration in order to make the approach applicable. Concluding, our findings are revealed to have practical implications for the actors involved in the horticulture sector in Kenya as well as theoretical implications for future research.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages169