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Government Keen on Agricultural Inputs to Farmers

The government is seeking to increase agricultural production by addressing the cost of farming inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and animal feeds, their quality and access to them.

To further enhance national food security, the government is also revitalizing agricultural cooperatives in dairy, coffee, cotton, tea and maize among others.

The Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ministry of Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Mr. Simon Chelugui says a multi-agency team has been established to assist in the distribution of subsidized fertilizers to farmers in the long rain planting season.

“The multi-agency has already been identified in 21 counties to benefit from the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme,” he said.

Chelugui says Kenya’s dependence on imported food is unacceptable when the country has the capacity to produce more for local consumption and export markets.

The CS was speaking during Yara leadership academy graduation class of 2022 with Agri business skills at Jumeirah Beachfront Hotel in Mombasa.

The graduation was the first cohort of Yara Leadership Academy for MSMES that kick started in November 2022 and sponsored by Yara International and Yara Kenya, with 500 graduates and 12 weeks training / mentorship.

The graduation ceremony for Yara distributors and stockists was also graced by Ms. Marisa Soares vice-president-Farming Solutions, Africa and Asia at Yara International and Mr. William Ngeno, Country Manager Yara Kenya.

Yara International ASA is a Norwegian chemical company that produces, distributes, and sells nitrogen-based mineral fertilizers and related industrial products.

Its product line also includes phosphate and potash-based mineral fertilizers, as well as complex and specialty mineral fertilizer products.

He said in the 2023 budget policy proposals, the government recognizes that MSMEs are a significant part of the economy, employing about 85 percent of non-farm jobs.

“But access to credit for MSMEs is limited and that is why the government wants to provide affordable credit,” he said.

In view of this the government has launched the Hustler Fund – a Flagship Programme of the government’s manifesto that will go a long way in realizing financial inclusion for millions of Kenyans who would otherwise be excluded from the mainstream financial system.

The personal finance product which offers between Sh500 and Sh50,000 at an interest rate of 8 per cent per annum has, in over five months since its launch, provided affordable credit to over 19 million Kenyans with a total of over Sh 25,293,093,914 disbursed.

He said it was impressive to note that the total repayment stands at over Sh15 billion representing over 60 per cent. The savings at Sh1, 264,973,009 and repeat borrowers currently stands at over 6.7 million Kenyans which signifies the relevance of the fund to the ordinary citizen.

The agricultural sector has a potential to offer the youth decent self-employment, as well as opportunity to participate as members/owners of the business where their voice is heard

He says the government also wants to end the criminalization of SMEs by enacting the necessary right-to-work legislation and make it easier for everyone who applies to get a trading license.

The CS Chelugui challenged the youth to develop enterprises and businesses that will inject the much needed energy into the economy.

He urged the graduates to get out into local communities and share with others what they have learnt about alleviating hunger, and promoting smart farming, climate-friendly agriculture and clean energy solutions.

Ms. Marisa Soares said Yara is supporting farmers and those in the supply chain in a bid to achieve a world without hunger.

“We pursue a strategy of sustainable value growth, promoting climate-friendly and high-yielding crops,” she said.

She said Yara has a goal to mobilize and support smallholder farmers in African countries to secure food production and improved food security.

Ngeno says the Yara academies specifically target rural enterprises focused on agriculture as it seeks to equip them with skills in digitization of operations, budgeting, working capital, inventory management, marketing, and growth strategy.

He says beneficiaries will gain access to free training and coaching in an effort to boost the turnover of SMEs and their business acumen.

By Hussein Abdullahi

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