The Nakuru County Government has inked a deal with One Acre Fund and Apollo Agriculture aimed at financing and providing subsidized farm inputs to over 4,000 small holder farmers within the devolved unit.
The pact between One Acre Fund, an American Non-Governmental Organization, Apollo Agriculture, a local agricultural financing company and Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s administration targets to finance farmers who own between half an acre and three acres – a category that is often neglected by banks.
One Acre Fund Government Relations Team Lead Mr Koome McCourt said the beneficiaries will be receiving loans in form of farm inputs that will include seeds, fertilizer and insurance to help cushion them from negative effects of climate change.
According to McCourt, the organization has already provided Sh41 million worth of farm inputs to farmers in Nakuru County during the past nine months.
The event was also graced by County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Dr Immaculate Maina, Chief Customer Relations Officer at Apollo Agriculture Benjamin Njenga and County Attorney Caleb Nyamwange
McCourt indicated that though previously funding by the organization was restricted to maize and beans farmers the scope of financing had been broadened to include growers of potatoes, macadamia and avocados.
Under the deal the American based NGO will initially purchase macadamia and avocado from farmers in the region and sell it in bulk quantities to large processing companies and exporters to enhance market access by small holder farmers.
McCourt revealed that plans were underway to incorporate herbs such as Chia and potatoes in the enhanced market access program.
According to the Government Relations Team Lead, as part of a new programme trial, the organization is setting up small shops in small towns to increase its reach and make cost-effective, high-quality farm inputs accessible to more farmers.
“In Nakuru we have opened the shops which are referred to as ‘Dukas’ in Njoro and Mau Narok wards. The Dukas are also equipped with facilities that will be used for farmer training and during field days. They are stationed in a way they can be central points for farmers to congregate when need arises,” he pointed out
Mr Njenga assured beneficiaries that Apollo Agriculture will ensure they receive blended fertilizers based on soil analysis so that farmers can protect their soils against becoming acidic.
The Customer relations officer said the financing package will also involve training farmers on proper agronomical practices in order to improve production of foodstuffs and enable families to achieve food security.
“We will extend to them the credit in form of farm inputs which they will repay after harvesting and selling their produce,” Mr Njenga asserted.
Mr Kinyanjui lauded the deal, noting that farmers with smaller acreage have been left out of the financial support.
The governor noted that 60 percent of Nakuru’s residents derived their livelihoods from agriculture directly and indirectly adding that most of them lacked collateral required by lending institutions before issuance of loans.
While noting that maize farming was no longer a lucrative venture Mr Kinyanjui advised farmers to diversify to avocado and pyrethrum whose global market demand, he said, was growing.
He challenged universities and research institutions to come up with seed varieties that were drought and disease resistant, high yielding and fast maturing in the face of climate change.
Mr Kinyanjui noted that other groups that need support are people living with disability and youths who many financial institutions leave out for lack of collateral.
Dr Maina stated that financing has been a challenge to small-scale farmers, particularly the youth and women willing to venture into the sector.
The CEC said smallholder farmers need improved access to high-quality inputs, financing, and agricultural training to achieve food security and prosperity in their homes.
“Our partnership with One Acre Fund an American and Apollo Agriculture will enable us to deliver services to more farmers, helping create futures of big harvests, healthy families, and rich soils,” said Dr Maina