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Brief news on farming and agribusiness in the country

Friday November 29 2019

Maria Wanjiku displays her cabbages for sale in Kawangware.

Businesswoman, Maria Wanjiku displays her cabbages for sale in Kawangware, in this past photo. Eight agribusiness enterprises in the country have been awarded Sh460million to help them support up to 50,000 smallholder farmers and create jobs. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Eight agribusinesses receive Sh460m from EU to support over 50,000 small farmers

Eight agribusiness enterprises have been awarded Sh460million to help them support up to 50,000 smallholder farmers and create 3,800 jobs.

The agribusinesses involved in production and processing of coconut, sorghum, soya, mango and dairy value chains received the money under an initiative dubbed AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund, which is sponsored by the European Union, and SlovakAid.

Manufacturers of solar-powered irrigation systems, agri-transport leasing providers and producers of bio-fertilisers were also awarded.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga lauded the initiative for supporting the sector, particularly agri-enterprises, which banks, more often than not shy away from lending them.

“At the ministry, we welcome such initiatives to bridge the financing gap in the agriculture sector and involve the private sector in supporting agriculture,” he said.

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European Union ambassador Simon Mordue acknowledged EU’s longstanding relationship with Kenya and striving to further the country’s development agenda.

“What is most remarkable is that the eight selected companies in different sectors will positively impact over 50,000 smallholder farmers and strengthen different value chains thus increasing incomes for them and producing more food for the country,” he said.

Self Help Africa’s Kenya country director Rebecca Amukhoye recognised the significant financial contribution made by EU and SlovakAid in supporting the initiative, and thanked the Ministry of Agriculture for supporting the implementation of the programme.

Companies that have so far received grant include Coconut Holdings Ltd, Olivado EPZ Ltd, Premier Foods Ltd, Ndumberi Dairy Farmers Co-operative, Transu Ltd, Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Ltd, Sunculture Kenya Ltd and Real IPM Ltd.

The AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund initiative seeks to support productive and market-integrated smallholder agriculture through the provision of financial support.

The money is aimed at improving the capacity of smallholder farmers and pastoralists to practice environmentally sustainable and climate-smart agriculture as a business in inclusive value chains.

It is also part of the wider AgriFI programme funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to unlock, accelerate and leverage investments within value chains.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is also chipping in, providing long term l financing through Equity Bank for on-lending to eligible food and agriculture sector projects.

The fund further aims to provide financial support to 50 companies thus, creating markets for over 100,000 small-holder farmers and pastoralists and creating over 10,000 new jobs.

The AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund is in the process of finalising the appraisal of second round calls for applications and bringing in the next set of successful companies in the second week of December, 2019. The 3rd call for proposals is currently open and will close on December 20, 2019.

Brian Okinda

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Erratic weather to hurt coffee production

Coffee production is expected to drop by 16 per cent this year due to prolonged dry weather that affected flowering of the crop.

Experts have blamed the decline particularly on the early cessation and delayed rains in the two coffee picking seasons.

The prolonged drought experienced in the beginning of the year affected flowering of the crop, meaning coffee plantations did get enough berries.

Currently, coffee production stands at 48,000 metric tonnes (MT), according to data from the Coffee Directorate and could drop to 40, 000MT.

“This year we have received more rainfall compared to the average but it started late for coffee plantations to achieve their optimal production,” noted Joseph Njau, manager of the Nyeri Hill farm.

The county has received 1, 100mm of rain since January compared to 950mm received annually.

Njau further stated that farmers were spending more this year on controlling pests and diseases like coffee berry disease, coffee leaf rust and late blight that ravage coffee during the rainy season or extended cold period.

Charles Karinga, the Nyeri coffee agronomist, said that the weather changing patterns compromise on the coffee produced leading to low prices in local and international markets.

–Irene Mugo

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DRC farmers to borrow Kenya’s cooperative model

A group of farmers from the Democratic Republic of Congo were recently on a benchmarking tour of the country’s agriculture sector.

The farmers were impressed by the farming technologies in the country and are keen on replicating them back home.

The DRC farmers said they will rally their colleagues at home to form production bodies, including county farmers’ associations, pre-co-operative associations, and farmer owned and managed rural co-operatives to replicate the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation’s (KENAFF) organisation model in North Kivu.

The farmers, under their umbrella body UWAKI/North Kivu, a smallholder farmers’ association, which comprises 35 women groups with a membership of over 2,000 in each group were in the country courtesy of KENAFF.

Marie-Claire Masika, the leader of the entourage, said their areas of interest included successful farmer-led co-operative movement in Kenya.

“Our enthusiasm in learning how KENAFF represents, articulates, promotes and protects the interests of farmers across the country is noteworthy,” said Ms Masika.

KENAFF CEO, Dr Mwenda Mailutha, said the agriculture sector deserves every one’s support as it strengthens all economies across East Africa, including in both Kenya and the DRC.

He assured them that KENAFF will support them to grow their farmers associations through its organising model as well as lessons from the co-operative movement in Kenya.

-Brian Okinda