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AFC to support young farmers and Islamic faithfuls, says Bett

The Chairman of Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) Board Franklin Bett has expressed commitment that the corporation will work closely with the County government of Busia with a view to support local farmers.
Speaking during the commissioning of AFC, Busia branch on Tuesday, Bett urged Governor Sospeter Ojaamong to come up with strategies on how to assist farmers in accessing funds.
“But I want to challenge your extension officers to be ready to guide farmers after we have given them financial support,” he told Ojaamong.
He further said that AFC will soon establish Islamic products so that they can also benefit from the corporation.
“We must assist them in a way that does not contradict their religious teachings and faith,” he said adding that the product will be launched soon.
He added that he has been pushing for translation of AFC into an agricultural bank for the three years he has served the corporation.
“If we have a bank for farmers, then farmers will greatly be supported,” he said adding that the bank will be able to receive deposits and also give credit to farmers.
The official at the same time urged the locals to venture into crop farming, livestock production as well as fish farming.
Bett urged the governor to establish a marketing office that will assist farmers on how to locate markets for their produce.
“Marketing is a crucial component of development in agriculture,” he said adding that there is need to look for markets locally, nationally and internationally.
He also urged the governor to work closely with the Land registrar to ensure that residents are issued with title deeds that can enable them to access loans from financial institutions.
The Board chairman further urged the local residents to engage in agribusiness and value addition.
Bett advised beneficiaries of AFC loans to repay promptly so that others can also be able to access the funds.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong lauded AFC for the initiative adding that it will relieve the local leaders from giving handouts to the locals.
Ojaamong pledged to pump additional funds to the AFC kitty so that more farmers can access loans from the institution.
“When it comes to marketing, we are lucky as Busia because we have two sugar factories with the most modern machines within the country,” he said adding that cane farmers who access loans will benefit greatly.
He added that maize farmers have a ready market at Western Deluxe which has 24 hours capacity of milling throughout the week.
“We will continue to attract more investors to assist Busia residents,” he said adding that challenges of Busia cannot be satisfactorily addressed by both the National and County Government alone.
The governor urged the local residents to apply for loans adding that it is the only way to development.
“I know our people fear loans but all these leaders you see around prospering have got loans,” he said.
Ojaamong noted with concern that Sh. 300 million allocated for Youth Enterprise and Development Fund were lying idle with only 4 per cent of youth applying for subsidized loans from the Fund.
“Even women fear accessing the funds and as a county, I think we need to sit down and soften the conditions,” he said.
He stated that his government will work closely with the national government with a view to support AFC and ensure that it benefits the local residents.
AFC Managing Director Lucas Meso said that the corporation was established in 2016 with zero portfolios but currently stands at Sh. 80 million.
The forum was also attended by a section of farmers who narrated their success stories after borrowing from AFC
By Salome Alwanda

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