• AFC is actively trying to push this funding to about 40 per cent so that more women join agriculture, which is Kenya’s economic backbone.
• Cultural issues are among the major hindrance of women participation major farming in some parts of the country including the Coast region.
Funding for women in agriculture in the country is below 15 per cent because Kenya is largely a patriarchal society, the Agricultural Finance Corporation has said.
The AFC is actively trying to push this funding to about 40 per cent so that more women join agriculture, Kenya’s economic backbone.
“We are trying to push the boundaries on funding for women in agriculture. We have seen employment creation, poverty alleviation and improved nutrition and living standards, in parts of the country where we have funded women,” AFC head of credit Bonano Badia said on Friday.
Speaking at a buyer/seller forum at Whitesands Hotel in Mombasa, Badia said the idea is to mainstream funding for women and women-led enterprises and push it to around 40 per cent.
The AFC has partnered with the UN Women.
Badia said there has been a major positive impact in communities where women have been empowered through active funding in the agricultural sector.
This has happened in Central and parts of Western Kenya and now the idea is to exploit the Coast region, where Badia said there us huge potential.
“We think this is the next frontier where this mainstreaming and this ability will be picked and taken further,” said Badia.
Cultural issues are among the major hindrance of women participation major farming in some parts of the country including the Coast region.
Badia said they are trying to change this in a sustainable manner that does not bring antagony in families.
“We are seeing areas where we are making headway,” said Badia.
AFC director Rukia Rashid said the notion that farming is for the uneducated has been the major undoing in the country.
Rashid said countries that were at par with Kenya in in the 1960s are now far ahead of Kenya because of agriculture.
“We had the blue economy, cashew nuts, bixa and many other resources but we ignored all this and we looked for jobs at the Mombasa port, in the municipal council and other white collar jobs.
“Now we are more than the available jobs,” said Rashid.
She said a young red pepper farmer in Ukunda, Kwale county earns about Sh115,000 a week from his 50 by 50 piece of land where he grows the red pepper.
“Which office today will give you Sh115,000 a week even if you have a PhD?” she posed.
She called on women at the Coast to take up farming saying the AFC is ready to finance them.
Rashid said empowering women to take up agriculture will enable them to provide food for their families and help prevent unwanted pregnancies in underage girls who go out looking for food.
Agribusiness, she said, enables even those who do not have land to farm.
UN Women program associate in charge of women economic empowerment David Mbogo said most of the women are in the agriculture sector.
A survey conducted by the UN Women in 24 counties across the country indicated that most women, although they are in agriculture, do not own the businesses, land or farms but are employees.
“Therefore, we engaged the AFC on a policy level such that they can make sure their finances do not require a very rigid process,” said Mbogo.
As a result, AFC relaxed some of their requirements and now they do not require things like title deeds as security for financing.
“This has made many women access finances,” said Mbogo.
The survey also indicated that most women do not have the skills, awareness and collaterals needed in the farming business.
The UN Women therefore trained over 800 women from six different counties including Busia, Kilifi, Uasin Gishu, Laikipia, Kitui and Kericho to gain necessary skills needed for farming.
“Out of those 800 women, approximately 200 were able to access loans from AFC immediately,” said Mbogo.