Western and Nyanza smallholder farmers are counting on a low cost agricultural input loan to boost their production and yields at a time when timely access to seeds, fertilizers and finance has slowed their crop production.
The loans are offered by One Acre Fund, a non-profit agriculture organization that offers farming inputs and training on credit to smallholder farmers in the region. The organization has this September 2014 announced the opening for enrollment for the 2015 long rains growing season in Kenya.
According to the organization’s communication officer Jenny Best, participating farmers will receive a complete bundle of agricultural inputs and services on credit, including the delivery of improved seeds and fertilizer, training on how to maximize crop yields, and education on how to minimize post-harvest losses. “Loan package values range from Sh5,000 to 12,500 for new members while returning members have access to loans up to Sh18,000.
“Smallholder farmers are some of the hardest-working people in the world, but they have little access to the resources they need to succeed,” said Nick Handler, director of One Acre Fund Kenya. “The benefits of joining One Acre Fund are clear: it’s affordable, accessible, and proven to permanently increase farm income.”
Farmers in Kenya who enroll for One Acre Fund’s basic loan package will receive improved seeds for staple crops in addition to Grevillea tree seeds, fertilizer, insurance for drought and funerals, and weekly trainings conducted within walking distance of their homes. Farmers in the program also have access to full-time field officers employed by One Acre Fund, a customer care hotline, and local staff throughout western Kenya. Each field officer will serve approximately 200 farmers.
In addition, farmers who purchase the basic loan package also have the option to receive additional products on credit, including maize, millet, sorghum and bean seeds, as well as solar lights, crop storage bags, and actellic dust to protect harvests from pest infestation. One Acre Fund delivers all products and services to a drop-off point within walking distance of client’s homes.
Already farmers from the region who have benefitted from similar previous efforts have a positive story to share. “One Acre Fund helped me to eradicate the recurrent cycle of hunger in my family,” said Edna Nanjala, a smallholder farmer in Mukwa,Bungoma County who enrolled with the organization in2012. “With One Acre Fund, I increased my harvest by more than double last year, and was able to provide food for my family until June of this year.”
One Acre Fund loan packages vary depending on the size of land registered. Farmers may enroll as little as a quarter of an acre of land. In Kenya, One Acre Fund provides a maximum of one loan package per household. To qualify, farmers are required to form local groups, to meet with a local field officer, and to submit a small pre-payment toward the loan. One Acre Fund offers a flexible repayment system: farmers may repay loans in any amount at any time during the growing season, but are required to complete repayment in full by September 6, 2015
Jenny further noted that on average, farmers working with One Acre Fund realize at least a 100% return on their investment and significantly increase farm income on every planted acre. The organization currently serves 180,000 farmers across Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.