28 January 2013

Kenya: Western Farmers Urged to Invest in Agriculture

THE Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on a campaign to encourage farmers in western region to take up loans to finance farming projects that will improve food security in the country.

Provincial Director Agriculture John Cheruiyot said although the region has very many financial institutions which offer agricultural loans, the farmers shy away from taking the loans and the few who take the loans end up misusing the money.

Cheruiyot said the region relies on importation of food from other regions despite the high agribusiness potential in the area because of the investments in the sector.

"We are using all public forums to talk to farmers and encourage them to go for loans and invest in agriculture. This way they will be able to use the Eldoret and Kisumu international airports to reach the markets," he said.

"Farmers sometimes take loans from financial institutions that offer agricultural loans but end up using the money for unrelated investments perceived to bring in more money and this has adversely affected our food security," he added

Cheruiyot added the ministry was doing a lot of capacity building by organizing field days, doing exhibition shows and setting up common interest groups to push for farming of vegetables and food crops.

The regional manager of Agricultural Finance Corporation David Orina asked farmers in the region to engage in horticulture, green houses and irrigation farming that has a high potential in the area.

"Food security in the county is compromised when farmers do not invest in agriculture or do it passively as a hobby. We want to make sure that we reach out to farmers through public avenues to change their perceptions about agribusiness and encourage them to take up loans," said Orina.

The region is suitable for dairy farming, sugar cane cultivation, growing maize, tomatoes, onions and many other food crops, he said.

Cheruiyot said that the ministry is working closely with organizations like Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) to make sure that diseases that attack food crops like Maize Necrosis are eradicated.

Other stakeholders like Western Seed and Kenya Seed are also in constant efforts to produce better seeds for farmers," said Cheruiyot.

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