Western farmers eye increased yields with training

Over 40,000 smallholder farmers from western Kenya are set to train on new age farming, in a move meant to spur more yields and incomes at a time when the climate change and poor soils have taken a toll on the area’s production capacity.

The training initiative is being fostered by One acre Fund, a not for profit organization that has positively changed farmers livelihoods since its inception in the area. The new initiative has been made possible with the funding of the organization with over Sh8,000,000 from Walmart Foundation and USAID.

According to Jenny best spokeswoman for One Acre Fund, the funding will enable One Acre Fund to train an additional 40,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, and 28,000 of those farmers will be women. “More women are set to benefit from the programme because the grant is part of a larger women’s economic empowerment initiative led by the Walmart Foundation. Seventy percent of the one billion people living in poverty are women and women control $20 trillion of annual consumer spending globally,” explained Best.

Farmers will receive 20 field-based agriculture trainings within walking distance of their homes. They’ll learn how to manage their land and soil nutrients, to maximize yields with proven planting techniques, and to minimize post-harvest losses with improved storage practices. “These trainings will enable farmers to gain the skills and knowledge they need to permanently increase farm productivity and income. Farmers trained will be able to improve their agricultural practices and significantly increase farm incomes in a single planting season,” noted Best.

The organization has already trained over 80,000 farmers from the region and hopes to reach a 120,000 mark with the grant it has received. Best explained that they are keen on improving farmers’ harvests and ultimately incomes and as a result, their success has ensured that on average, farmers working with One Acre Fund double their farm incomes and realize a 100percent return on their investment.

The group also realizes the importance of adopting high value farm inputs like seeds in the ultimate returns from the farms. We have a huge appetite for our farmers’ success and do not discriminate on any farmers’ willingness to work with us. We have a team of grassroots officers who help in the recruitment programmes and also spell out our expectations and roles to the farmers.

For farmers lacking finance to fund their costs for inputs, the organization has set out a program to help them. “One Acre Fund’s loans are asset- and service-based loans. We do not lend cash. Our loans are in the form of seeds, fertilizer training and market facilitation and delivers those services directly to the rural villages where smallholder farmers live. 

Farmers may repay their loan at any point during the growing season and last year, 99percent of farmers repaid their loans in full and on time,” explained Best.