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Youth Fund enables Sailo Youth to reap a fortune in coffee farming

The Youth Enterprise Development Fund, one of the flagship projects of Vision 2030, under the social pillar has continued to transform the lives of Kenyan youth groups and individuals by providing funds in order to increase economic opportunities for them.

Sailo Youth Group in Kipkelion East, Kericho County is one of the beneficiaries of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund since 2014 when they first registered formally and secured a Sh. 50,000 loan and began agri-business as entrepreneurship for the members, a majority of whom were jobless.

The twelve-member group comprised of eight men and four women started out as a self-help group in 2012 but it was not until 2014 when they formally got registered that they were able to borrow their first loan which enabled them to venture into bull fattening and cereals business within their locality.

Speaking to KNA from Sailo village, the Youth Group chair Mr. Charles Tumm disclosed that the bull fattening and cereals business was a success and they managed to repay their loan and qualified for more funds.

“After we completed to repay our first loan which had a very low loan interest rate of 6 percent annually, we were confident enough to borrow more since we had a plan to venture into coffee farming,” said Mr. Tumm

The Youth group which is based in Chepcholiet Sub-Location within the escapements of Kipkelion East Sub-County managed to secure a second loan of Sh.200,000 courtesy of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and immediately started coffee farming from which they started reaping benefits after three years.

Kericho County is predominantly a tea-growing zone but areas of Kipkelion East Sub-County, which is on the south-western part of the county, are known for coffee farming, thanks to its black cotton soil.

“We first leased some land but after our first harvest, we had made enough money to purchase that same one and half acre land which was a great milestone for us as a group.” Mr. Tumm said.

Sailo Youth Group has since managed to buy more land for their coffee plantation which continues to be their main source of income and the group members have been able to comfortably fend for their families and even purchase their individual lands.

“We currently own 4 acres of land as a group. We have however planted coffee on three acres of land and all our group members also own their individual land. Recently we bought over 10,000 seedlings of coffee and distributed to the group members to plant on their individual lands,” Mr. Tumm added

Last year Sailo youth Group reaped over 9,800 kilos of coffee berries which earned them over Sh.800,000 and this year they expect to reap over 14,000 kilos of the berries which they look forward to pocket over a million shillings.

“We used to take our coffee to Kapchawir factory which is far from this area but due to increase in production of our coffee, the factory decided to open a branch in our village to make transportation easy,” pointed out Mr. Tumm

According to Mr. Tumm, the Kipkelion East landscape is dominated by three popular varieties of coffee including; Ruiru 11, Batian, and K7 noting that the Ruiru 11 can resist Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust and is suitable for all growing altitudes in Kenya.

Coffee production in this area is greatly constrained by three fungal diseases namely coffee leaf rust, coffee wilt disease, and coffee berry disease. The fungal diseases, just like coffee, thrive in cold weather.

“We are better managing the common challenges most coffee farmer grapples with by employing better practices to maintain good standards of the berries. Our venture into coffee farming in this village has also created job opportunities since we now have over 20 casual laborers in our farms who cultivate the coffee and come in handy during harvesting season,” said Mr. Tumm

Mr. Tumm who revealed that now the group has applied for a third loan of Sh.500,000 to enhance their coffee farming next year, encouraged the youth to form groups and capitalize on the government funding courtesy of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund in order to get into entrepreneurship.

According to Kericho County Credit officer, Mr. Victor Langat 118 youth groups have benefitted from the funds this financial year and over 10 million shillings has already been disbursed to the groups which mostly engage in agri-business within the County.

“The Agri-biz loan is available to youth who wish to start or expand agricultural-related businesses including the purchase of equipment and working capital which is available to individuals, registered groups, partnerships and companies owned and run by the youth in which they can access up to Sh. 2 million to be repaid within a period of 3 years,” said, Mr. Langat

He further pointed out that applicants must source for inputs or equipment from accredited vendors and provide invoices/quotations for the same. They must also have a valid supply contract where applicable and copies of the same provided as well as relevant licenses, and a proposal for starting an agricultural undertaking endorsed by a mentor in the same agribusiness who will also guarantee the applicant.

Applicants are also required to provide relevant business records including sales agreement, provide certified 6 months bank statements, and provide proof of ownership of the land where farming will be undertaken or lease agreements for leased land, or consent of use of land from the owner.

“Start-up applicants must be organized in groups, or must have alternative income, or must provide conventional securities.” Mr. Langat added.

By Kibe Mburu

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