Farmers need cheaper loans, say experts

Saturday September 10 2016

A sorghum farmer in his farm in Baringo.

A sorghum farmer in his farm in Baringo. Agricultural stakeholders have called on the government to create an enabling environment for smallholder farmers to access credit. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LEOPOLD OBI
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Agriculture stakeholders have called on the government to create an enabling environment for smallholder farmers to access credit.
With financial access, the farmers will be able to acquire the necessary farming inputs which will in turn boost their productivity, they said.

Pradeep Paunrana, the chief executive officer for Athi River Mining company, said that by spending only Sh10,000 per acre a farmer is able to harvest 30 bags of maize which equals Sh75,000.

Therefore, Paunrana said, that if provided with cheaper loans, farmers would be able to buy the right input for their soils and the right quality seeds.

Experts disagreed with the idea that Kenyan soils exhibit low productivity due to over application of fertilisers.

ADOPT EFFECTIVE FARMING PRACTICES

In Asia, the average use of fertiliser per acre stands at 210kg compared to 10kg per acre among local farmers, yet productivity of farms in Asia remain are high, experts pointed out.

“Our soils are depleted of nutrients as a result of misuse of fertilisers among other factors but application of fertilisers among local smallholder farmers is still low,” said Rebbie Harawa, a soil scientist and head of Farmers solution programme at Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Anit Roy, former President of the Intentional Fertiliser Development Centre, advised farmers to adopt farming practices such as crop rotation and use of organic manure to build up the soil organic matter to enable crops take up nutrients from fertilisers.