NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Steve Kibei bends and holds a leaf of a tomato plant
on his half-acre farm in Kitengela, a suburb on the outskirts of
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.
Kibei grows the tomatoes under the drip irrigation system and has
been doing it for the last two years as he seeks to earn a living
from the soil.
“This is my office, this is my job,” Kibei, a sociology graduate,
said on Monday. “I turned to farming after failing to get a job in
my area of study but I do not regret because I am earning some
money,” he added.
Kibei wishes to expand his business and grow other crops,
specifically onions for more income, but lack of capital is his main
“I lease the half-acre at 100 U.S. dollars a year. My plan is to
lease two acres, but this needs money that I do not have. Besides, I
will also need funds for the drip irrigation system, labour and
quality seeds. I tried getting a loan from a commercial bank and
failed,” said Kibei desperately.
But as Kibei, and thousands of other youths in the East African
country who have taken up farming grapple with financing, the
challenge may soon be a thing of the past as the government moves to
Franklin Bett, the chairman of Agricultural Financing Corporation
(AFC), the nation’s agri-bank, which has been moribund for years,
assured farmers in a meeting in Nairobi that the institution is
“In the next few months farmers in particular the youth would be
able to walk into any branch of AFC with their agribusiness
proposals and come out with a loan without any hurdles,” he said.
Bett noted that the aim is to revive agri-financing and make the
institution the preferred agribusiness financier in the East African
“For many years, AFC was a reliable farmers’ bank offering only
loans to thousands of people to boost their agribusinesses as it is
happening in other countries like China and India. But what killed
the institution was political interference where farmers waited for
their loans to be waived during elections,” he noted.
He observed that AFC would be expanded in the coming months so that
it has an office in every county to serve more people.
“Our target is particularly the youth because many have no capital
to get into farming but have great ideas that would boost food
security. We want them facilitated because if they have loans, then
they would produce food and the country would be secure,” he said.
Ann Onyango, the agriculture secretary at the Ministry of
Agriculture, noted that it is through financing the youth that Kenya
would shift farming from the old to the young.
“Our records at the ministry show that 60 percent of farmers are
over 50 years and are ageing faster. We need to bring on board more
young people and this can be done by financing them,” said Onyango.
She observed that 80 percent of food production in the East African
nation is done by small holder farmers, the majority of whom lack
capital to grow their businesses.
“Farmers need to be motivated through measures like affordable loans
so that they can produce more food,” she said. “As a government, we
are also rooting for private-public partnerships to boost
agriculture production,” she added.
Kibei, and many other young farmers welcomed the move but said they
were cautious since similar promises have been made before.
“I keep 200 chickens and my plan has been to expand to at least
1,000 birds. If the government keeps its promise, then there is hope
for young farmers,” said Joseph Kimeu, a farmer in Kakamega, western