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Bags of sugar/FILE

Kenya

Sugarcane farmers get Sh500m boost

Bags of sugar/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – Sugarcane growers have been allocated an extra half a billion shillings to help in production and transportation through the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).

Announcing the partnership yesterday, Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgey said the project to be implemented by the Sugar Development Board (SDB) will enable more farmers to borrow money easily through the AFC.

“It is easier for sugar farmers to borrow through AFC because their interest rates are lower compared to banks. Farmers will be getting their loans at five percent which should assist them because they are very small scale,” she said.

Kosgey added that the loan will be available to growers who can come together in blocks to make up one hectare of land under cane.

“Some of the farmers under normal circumstances would find it very difficult to borrow because they have less than one hectare. In this case, to be able to put together maybe two- three farmers as a cluster so they can borrow, under normal circumstances if you have under a hectare, it is difficult to access finance,” Kosgey said.

The Minister however warned farmers over deliberate defaults in their loan re-payments expecting the government to write their debts off.

She affirmed: “Those days where the government used to have bad debts. Those days are over. In this day and age we expect everyone to take responsibility for themselves and that means, if you take borrow something, the person you borrowed it from expects it back.”

AFC’s Managing Director, Lucas Meso added 1,357 farmers have so benefited from the first loan and out of the Sh634 million disbursed so far, farmers still owe the corporation Sh136 million.

He further said the partnership with Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) is to support cane production in the Sugar Belt using funds from the Sugar Development Fund (SDF). The programme which has a revolving fund is aimed at supporting the achievement of competiveness in the sugar subsector in the preparation of the removal of the COMESA safeguards.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture Gideon Ndambuki is set to travel to high sugar yielding counties to encourage farmers to take up the loans from mid next month.

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