The Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) has reopened its doors to farmers in Samburu County after closing down for 20 years.
Speaking during the official commissioning of the Maralal office, AFC acting Managing Director (MD) Rose Ochanda said that the corporation closed its doors in Maralal town in 1996 after only nine years of operation due to financial constraints coupled by uncooperative loan defaulters.
“In order to improve agriculture in Samburu, we re-opened this office in 2017 and started afresh,” she said.
Ochanda noted that the revamped AFC will work closely with the county government to improve agriculture by financing farmers through affordable loans with only five percent interest per annum.
“Samburu County has great agricultural potential since it has 1,580 square Kilometre of arable land we also finance agro-processing for livestock,” she said.
The MD noted that in the three years Maralal AFC has been operational, the loan uptake has been very low with only 40 famers applying for loans totaling to Sh 64.2 million.
“There is still fear of taking loans among locals after defaulters were tracked down in the 80s and 90s but we are demystifying the situation by constantly sensitizing farmers with the help of the national and county government,” she said.
On his part, AFC chairman Franklin Bett noted that six group ranches in Samburu County have been subdivided and over 10,000 individual title deeds will be issued by the end of the year.
He advised locals not to sell their land but instead take affordable loans with AFC and improve dairy, maize, wheat or livestock farming.
“Sensitizing locals about the benefits of AFC will be one of the main mandates of the Maralal office, the new land owners can use their title as security to apply affordable loans,” he said.
Bett underscored the need to repay loans saying that gone are the days when politicians would declare a waiver on defaulters.
“If our borrowers have a hard time repaying loans due to unfavorable climate our offices are open and we can agree on a payment formula,” he said.
Nelson Lekisaat a maize famer in Loosuk ward urged the AFC to extend the payment period for new start up farmers in Samburu County as a way of increasing the client portfolio.
“Kindly consider that Samburus are still new in farming and new farmers should be given a longer period to repay their loans considering the harvesting period and sale of the crop,” he said.
By Robert Githu