The County Government of Elgeyo Marakwet has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with One Acre Fund, a non-profit social enterprise that supplies financing and training to help smallholder farmers grow.
In the partnership, One Acre Fund will be providing farmers with farm inputs who will, in turn, repay in instalments. The inputs which include planting and top dressing fertilizer, certified maize seeds among others will be delivered to the farmers at market rates to their homes before the onset of April rains which often signals the beginning of the planting season in the region. The farmers will be required to make payments through mobile money transfer in instalments taking between nine to 11 months.
Governor Alex Tolgos while signing the MOU said the partnership was welcome and urged farmers to take advantage of the arrangement since the repayment model was friendly. “During the planting season, farmers delay in planting their crops due to lack of money to buy farm inputs. Most farmers have had challenges in production due to the high cost of production. One Acre Fund has been working with the Department of Agriculture on a pilot basis and we have now formalized the pact” He said.
He urged the organization to extend its services across all the Wards in the County especially along the Kerio Valley. “Most farmers along the Kerio Valley usually plant without fertilizer. Once they are introduced to it, production in the area will double and thereby improve food security,” he added.
On average, it costs a farmer around Sh8,000 on the minimum to plant an acre of land on inputs alone. The County says on average, fertilizer retails at Sh3000, top dressing fertilizer, Sh2700 and Sh2000 to buy seeds before factoring in farm operations which is out of reach of many smallholder farmers.
More than 3000 farmers from Kamariny, Kapchemutwa Wards in Keiyo North and Chepkorio, Kabiemit, Kaptarakwa and Metkei wards in Keiyo South Sub Counties have already been enrolled in a pilot project.
Lilian Avugwi, One Acre Fund, Government Relations Officer said unlike offering direct loans to farmers, the organization had come to be a bridge by providing the inputs and other extension services like soil testing.
“One Acre focuses on improving food production and since most small scale farmers have financial challenges especially during the planting season, this is where One Acre Fund comes in. We also offer insurance services to the farmers who are enlisted in the program. The model is working so well and we hope to recruit more farmers.” she said.
The organization also donated 40, 500-litre water tanks to be distributed across to be used for handwashing.
Present during the occasion were Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich, County Secretary Paul Chemutut, Livestock and Cooperative CECM Dr Joseph Kiyeng, John Ombogo One Acre Fund Government Relations Specialist, Agriculture Chief Officer Edwin Seroney among other county staff.