(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s economy accelerated at its fastest pace in two years in line with the government’s own estimate, powered by a recovery in the agricultural sector.

Gross domestic product grew by 5.6% in 2023, compared with a revised 4.9% a year earlier, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. The International Monetary Fund expected growth of 5.5% and the central bank 5.6%.

Favorable weather conditions last year meant the agriculture industry, which made up nearly 22% of total output, and comprises a third of total employment, expanded 6.5%. The sector contracted in 2022 as the country battled its worst drought in four decades, which threatened about five million people with hunger.

The rains improved output of key farm exports such as tea, flowers, fruits and vegetables and the nation’s staple, corn. Imports were little changed at 2.6 trillion shillings ($19.8 billion), while exports jumped 15% to 1 trillion shillings, according to statistics agency’s Director-General Macdonald Obudho. The pace of growth for both mining and manufacturing slowed. Tourism continued to mend with arrivals up by more than a third, he said.

Layers of Shocks

The boost from the sector may be short-lived because of flooding and mudslides from heavy rains. Kenya usually receives seasonal rains from March to May, but the downpours have been severe this year, worsened by the El Niño weather phenomenon. President William Ruto warned this month that they will persist, increasing in both duration and intensity, for the rest of May and could extend into June.

“The economy has been trying to unwind from those negative layers and layers of shocks,” Treasury Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said in the capital, Nairobi. “We have a duty right now to see whatever means we can use to defend that economic recovery.”

The downpours have already destroyed wide swathes of croplands and killed livestock, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. They have also damaged roads and bridges, crimping the movement of people, fuel and food.

Disasters such as floods, drought, landslides, terrorism, structural collapses, among others, are estimated to generate an average fiscal liability of as much as 2.4% of GDP each year, according to the National Treasury. The IMF forecasts the economy to expand 5% this year.

(Updates with Treasury secretary’s comment from sixth paragraph)

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