‘Drop by drop’ funds farmers to access irrigation technologies

Smallholder farmers in the country struggling to access finance to embrace new age farming can now be relieved after the introduction of a flexible bit by bit mode of payment to access Money maker irrigation pumps by Kick Star International, the manufacturers of the kit.  

The initiative which is dubbed Tone Kwa Tone, Swahili for drop by drop, is aimed at ensuring that there is food security through sustained food production regardless of the prevailing weather patterns. Targeting less fortunate smallholder farmers who make the bulk of farmers in the country, the initiative was introduced after the realization that most farmers who may benefit from the irrigation pumps are financially handicapped. “Most of the smallholder farmers in the country are not endowed with any form of sustained cash flow projects and to worsen their situation is the fact that they cannot be access financial assistance from most of the financial institutions in the country because they are considered as high risk clients as most of them lack the ideal securities to act as collateral for the loans,” explained Wahome Evelyne Head of Marketing of Kick Star Kenya.

The Moneymaker foot pump which has a capacity to irrigate over two acres retails at about sh12600 and a smaller  version pumped using hands retailing at about sh5900 and has a capacity to irrigate over one and quarter an acre of land. “Although our products are relatively affordable, we realized that our target market could not afford them and therefore we had to try and make a way of ensuring that they can access the pumps.”

The model enables a famer to pay bit by bit in three installments. Kickstart firm has outlets and distributors spread throughout the country. A smallholder farmer interested in acquiring the pumps through the model registers his identification details at any of the outlets. The registered farmer is then given a pay bill number onto which his monthly installation payments are channeled to. Once one completes the payments, the pump is then delivered to the farmer.

According to Wahome, the organization’s aim is to ensure that they impact positively on the smallholder farmer and therefore in case a farmer is not able to complete the payment on time, an extension period is given depending on the one’s situation.

The irrigation pumps have an estimated shelf life of over 10 years although this entirely depends on the care granted to them while in use. For intensive users who use the pump on a daily basis, Wahome explained that the rubber seals may need replacement after every six months. Due to the fact that they are manual, one does not need to spend an extra cost on powering it. Depending on one’s need, it can be connected to pipes or sprinklers for irrigation. The pumps have a capacity to draw water from a 23 feet deep well and can also be used to irrigate from rivers.

Although initiated two years ago, the model has been used by over 400 farmers a figure that Wahome noted that is way down their initial expectation. “We received a major setback in that many of the farmers were more skeptics and could not trust the fact they pay the cash and the product will be delivered after completion of payment. This is normal in the society with many posing with fake products and increased cases of conning.”

However, the organization is now optimistic after having learnt from their setbacks and is optimistic that they will eventually impact a larger number of farmers in the country. “We have learned our fair share of the bottlenecks and have trained our sales personnel have to ensure bonding and acclimatization with the farmers on the ground so that they remove their doubts about our honesty. In addition, many of the farmers who have used the model and are now enjoying using the pump are our ambassadors and of recent we have even started receiving interested farmers through referrals.”

The Government of Kenya is implementing projects that will increase water storage per capita from 5m3 to 80m3 (16 times). This is aimed at supporting the country from perennial water shortage. Experts in the sector note that increased storage capacity will contribute to the growth of irrigated agriculture by 50,000 hectares.

According to Wahome farmers can benefit from the government’s effort of increased water supply through adoption of irrigation technologies. “Irrigation can increase agricultural productivity fourfold and, depending on crops, incomes can be multiplied 10 times,” she added.