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Farmers to access loans in Sh800 million new deal

By Kevine Omollo | March 11th 2020

Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Chief of Party Tom Carr (left) and Agricultural Finance Corporation Managing Director Lucas Meso sign a deal for funding merger. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Farming in Nyanza and Western regions have received a boost after Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) merged farmers' financing operations.

The merger will see at least Sh800 million funding available for farmers, with half the amount being loans and the rest grants.

The government corporation, AFC, will contribute Sh400 million while KCDMS, which is funded by the United States International Aid (USAid), will contribute the balance.

AFC Managing Director Lucas Meso and KCDMS Chief of Party Tom Carr yesterday signed an agreement for the programme merger, which will run up to September 2022.

The event held in Kisumu and graced by AFC Board of Directors led by Chairman Franklin Bett brought together farmers, players in the agricultural value addition as well as private input providers.

The programme is part of initiative aimed at meeting nutrition and food security needs.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Meso said the agreement was reached to promote access to funds for small-scale farmers who have become the backbone of food production in the country.

“We will be monitoring the projects and will pump in more money should there be need. And with the near-collapse of all sugar factories, our people have been thrown into misery, and they have to get this funding so as to diversify their production,” said Meso.

According to Meso, farmers will be required to provide viable proposals, with complete plan on how to implement their projects.

If approved by AFC upon assessment, they will be given the funds which will carter for set-up and operation capital.

“So long as you have good projects, AFC is here for you as long as the project will make a difference,” said Meso who urged farmers from the area to venture into dairy farming which he said has proven to be viable in the area.

Be self-reliant

Mr Carr noted that KCDMS mission was to assist government entities, which support farmers, to be self-reliant.

“Our intervention is not long-term, and we will be closing our operations at some point, but we want to leave these entities and the farmers self-reliant,” he said.

Farmers who have previously benefited from the funding from the two entities noted that the financing programme merger was the best thing to have happened as it will expand access to the funds.

Patrick Magana, a dairy farmer from Seme Sub-county in Kisumu noted that he has twice benefited from the funds, but could not do massive expansion as he had envisioned as funds were limited.

“I recently applied for Sh5 million but I was told the money was not available, and I was also not in a position to prove my viability to repay such an amount. But we are glad that the expanded finance base will help us in this,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Millicent Nasimiyu, a sweet potato farmer, who said she has not been able to access enough funds to expand her value addition programme.

Mr Bett noted that the merger will help the corporation in implementing its new strategic plan which recognises responsive partnerships for improving farming.

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