The Star (Nairobi)

1 January 2014

Kenya: Commercial Tree Growers Decry Lack of Finance

Commercial tree growers are calling on the government to provide incentives to enable the sector achieve its full economic potential.

Under the umbrella of the Kenya Forest Growers Association they said lack of access to product specific finance is one of the main challenges facing commercial tree growers.

They said while other sectors like trade and agriculture have various financial products to promote their operations, no single incentive has been extended to commercial tree growers.

"Unlike tea, coffee or wheat farmers who have both private and public financial institutions extending support, our members depend on their

savings and ingenuity to develop their farms" said KEFGA secretary general Benson Kanyi in an interview.

KEFGA chairman Gen (Rtd) Humprey Njoroge said while tea, coffee, wheat, pyrethrum or horticulture farmers enjoy financial support from banks, the Agricultural Finance Corporation, the Horticultural Crop Development Aauthority and Saccos little funding is available for tree farmers.

"It is about time that tree growers should also be considered because their businesses are based on very sound economics and science" Njoroge.

The officials called for government support in provision of high quality seedlings to weed out unscrupulous seedling suppliers.

"Many investors have been conned in the name of hybrid seedlings and only came to us when they had sunk millions into sub-standard seedlings" said Kanyi who is also the Tree Biotechnology Programme Trust Project Manager.

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