State to register 1.5m farmers on low-cost inputs
By Wilson Abiri
The Government is in the process of registering at least 1.5 million small holder farmers and empower them to access a wide range of farm inputs through the use of e-voucher management system.
This is part of the government’s 10-year Agriculture Growth Food Strategy (2019-2019) in implementing Big Four Agenda on Food Security.
Registered farmers will access the farm inputs from accredited agro-dealers across the country by using the e-voucher. The Government will spend Sh5 billion on programme next year.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the farm inputs will be distributed through the contracted agro dealers and not the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) as it has always been the norm in a bid to reach targeted farmers.
Mr Kiunjuri was during the opening of the Seed and Soil testing laboratory at One Acre Fund offices in Kakamega town.
“All the 1.5 million farmers under the programme will undergo free registration by One Acre Fund via their mobile phones in which their names will be captured, ID number, size of the farm, commodities farmed and annual income. Extension agents will verify every registered farm over the first three years,” said Kiunjuri.
The CS said the programme will start with over 400,000 smallholder farmers who have already been registered by One Acre Fund and will be facilitated to get certified seeds, fertiliser and other farm inputs.
“We already have a model where One Acre Fund is teaming up with small holder farmers to give credit to farmers in form of farm inputs, which are interest free and the farmers repay the loan every season and those who cannot pay, we have mitigation measures as their crops will be insured,” said Kiunjuri.
He added: “The work of the Government is not to do business but to support businesses to grow so that each farmer is self-reliant.”
Kiunjuri said they are collaborating with One Acre Fund which has trusted farmers who are properly managed by field and extension officers under the model. The NGO will also recruit the remaining 1.1 million farmers.
“Banks and other financial institutions fear giving loans to farmers and those that have tried like the Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC), farmers disappear after making losses and don’t repay the loans and then they (farmers) leave farming as a commercial venture,” said Kiunjuri.
Mitchel Kagari, the One Acre Fund – Global Director for Government Relations and Policy said they are committed at working with both the National and County Governments in a bid to make to make farmers more prosperous and consistently produce good yields each season.
“With the launch of the Seed and Soil laboratory at One Acre Fund, we will integrate mandatory extension services into the program who will be explaining to farmers what fertiliser and crops to plant and give advice on proper post-harvest handling of produce where the risk of aflatoxin is high,” said Ms Kagari.
Vihiga Governor Wilbur Ottichilo and his Kakamega counterpart, Wycliffe Oparanya welcomed the move saying with will work with the national government to ensure the country is food secure.