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February 17, 2019

The Week

The tissue culture banana seedlings.More farmers from Trans Nzoia have started embracing the crop/photo/NICHOLAS WAMALWA
The tissue culture banana seedlings.More farmers from Trans Nzoia have started embracing the crop/photo/NICHOLAS WAMALWA

Farmers seek better loan terms to increase productivity




Small scale farmers want financial institutions to offer better loan terms.

Esther Muiruri, Equity Bank general manager of Agribusiness, said the bank has come up with financing models that consider farmers' problems.

"Since the launch of Kilimo Biashara, the bank has given Sh6 billion to 70,000 farmers who have used the loans for expansion and wealth creation,” she said.

Boniface Mwangi, a dairy farmer with Muki Farmers' Co-operative Society, said his society has supported its members through a model that enables farmers acquire inputs on credit

“Payment for milk deliveries take up to 40 days, and while farmers wait for it, they can take cow feeds and other inputs on credit from designated agrovet shops,” he said.

He said dairy farming has its own challenges, including seasonal supply cycles where there is more milk produced during the rainy season than during dry spells.

This, he said, complicates paying loans when the milk supply is less.

“Currently, agricultural financing is offered by banking institutions and agro-input dealers. Easy and quick access to affordable financing, flexible repayment options timed to cash flow would greatly increase utilisation of quality inputs, enhance farmers’ production, increase demand for inputs and improve the incomes and livelihoods of farmers,” said Maarten Susan, the director of Finance for Agriculture.



Cashew farmers demand revival of Kilifi factory




Farmers from Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu counties are demanding the revival of the Kenya cashew nut factory in Kilifi.

Kilifi cooperative union chairperson Fatuma Mwakidudu said farmers from the coast region have resolved to send a delegation to President Uhuru Kenyatta to push for the revival of factory.

The once vibrant factory, that was auctioned in the 1980s following an unserviced bank loan, is now under threat from squatters.

Squatters living adjacent to the factory have been threatening to invade the 3,000-acre factory land.

“Some people have been eyeing the factory land and want to invade it and that is why we called the stakeholders meeting to quickly start new efforts to revive it,” she said.

Mwakidudu said farmers, through the Kilifi cooperative union, still have a 35 per cent shareholding while the government has a 65 per cent stake.

“The production capacity of the factory was 60,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per day and our annual production was 15,000 tonnes on average. At one time, the factory made a profit of Sh25 million per year. That was a good business in the eighties,” said Runya Ngamba, chairman of the cooperative supervisory board.



El Nino continues to wreak havoc to farms in Kinangop




The ongoing El Nino rains continue to wreak havoc in the agriculture rich Kinangop, Nyandarua county.

Major roads have been rendered impassable with farms counting huge losses as their produce, including milk and vegetables, cannot reach the market.

A section of the main Engineer-Kirima road, which connects Kinangop to Naivasha, has been damaged, adversely affecting the flow of traffic.

Tens of feeder roads within the area have suffered the same fate as the full effects of the El Nino rains started to be felt in the area.

Nyandarua governor Waithaka Mwangi noted that if the rains continue, farmers especially potato farmers would incur huge losses.

“The harvesting season for potatoes was around the corner but farmers cannot move into the farms due to the rains,” Mwangi noted.

According to a farmer, Joel Kibe, farms have become waterlogged due to the heavy rains.

“We are having a hard time transporting milk and other produce to the market due to the bad state of the roads, which have been damaged by the rains,” he said.



More farmers embrace banana farming in Trans Nzoia




Trans Nzoia county has established banana nurseries to increase production of the crop.

Governor Patrick Khaemba said his government has started five tissue culture banana hardening nurseries.

The nurseries are erected in Saboti, Kiminini, Kwanza, Cherangany and Endebess to enable farmers access clean, high quality banana seedlings easily.

“My department of agriculture has procured 15,000 banana plantlets which have been paid for,” Khaemba said in Kitale.

Last financial year, the county government allocated Sh4, 672,000 for the banana project.

The establishment of the nurseries, according to Khaemba, is due to growing demand for the commodity as a way of diversifying from maize farming.

Most of the maize farmers have resolved to diversify to other crops in the area because of poor maize prices.






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