The government has launched a smallholder farmers project that aims to boost the country’s food security.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the AgriFi programme will promote integration of smallholder farmers in their value chains in crops such as cassava, sorghum, green grams and beans.
“The overall project amount is Ksh 5.3 billion (US$53 million) and will benefit approximately 100,000 small holder farmers to practice environmentally sustainable and climate-smart agriculture as a business in inclusive value chains over the next seven years,” Kiunjuri said.
The primary target of this programme is the smallholder farmers, pastoralists and their groups who are occasional market players with the potential to become full players in specific value chains.
AgriFi, through the Kilimo Value Chain Challenge, will help to finance projects with high development impact that would not have otherwise been undertaken in the same scale.
Kiunjuri said that the project is structured in such a way that it leverages Ksh 5.78 billion of loans via the European Investment Bank as well as additional funds from partner businesses and commercial banks.
He noted that agri-businesses will be the strategic actors to enable smallholders farmers to integrate into commercial farming within their specific value chain as well as help them to upscale research innovations.
Kiunjuri said that in choosing to invest in the agriculture sector, this initiative is recognising the very central role that agriculture will play in driving the economic development of the country.
The CS said farmers remain trapped in poverty due to lack of affordable financing and limited access to formal markets.
He said maximising small holder production requires farmers to have the means and capacity to adopt the best production practices.
“This means utilising high quality inputs such as seeds and livestock breeds, getting well organized in order to aggregate their produce and maintaining high quality and sanitary standards in order achieve maximum income,” he added.
The AgriFi project is being implemented by Self Help Africa.
Rebecca Amukhoye, the Country Director of Self Help Africa, said the project seeks to increase smallholders output by 70% over the term of the initiative.
Amukhoye said the project will also put 20,000 hectares of land under climate-smart practices. The beneficiaries’ agribusiness is expected to receive disbursements of grants of an average of Ksh 40 million. The programme also aims to create jobs, raise incomes, promote value addition and provide market access.
The country director said that the programme will also introduce financial blending, which is an instrument mechanism that combines grants with other innovative financial instruments such as loans, equity investment and financial guarantees.
She said the project will promote production of cassava due to its drought resistant qualities as well as multiple uses starch, flour and livestock feed.
“Cassava remains a largely underdeveloped and therefore requires support to enable farmers to increase their incomes by tapping into growing demand,” she said.
The project is seeking to link at least 23,000 cassava farmers to market opportunities.
Amukoye said the project will facilitate the availability of quality cassava planting material by working with the research bodies.