NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 10 – Farmers in Western Kenya have been urged to use credit they source from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) to provide employment opportunities to the jobless youth.
AFC Managing Director Lucas Meso says the rate of unemployment in the country is soaring and interventions lie in the agricultural sector.
Meso says AFC through partners have cash flow that can help farmers to expand their production, feed the nation and create employment.
“We will provide farmers with the cash flow provided that you help us in certain aspects, for example, we want you to create employment,” he said.
He says farmers must be innovative to be able to attract more credit from the financial institution to grow.
“Our employment rate in the country is at its lowest and farmers have the capacity to create employment to absorb our young people,” he said.
Speaking in Kisumu during the launch of a blended finance program between AFC and Kenya Crops and Diary Market System, Meso says over the years farmers in the region ventured in cane farming.
He says with the near collapse of cane factories in the region, farmers need to turn to poultry and dairy farming to supplement their earnings in the sugarcane sector.
Meso challenged farmers to embrace diary farming by getting loans from AFC to upscale their farming.
He announced that AFC is keen to make the region a milk zone and asked farmers to change their mindset towards cane farming.
“This region, our dream was to make this region a milk country, all the way from Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega to Kisumu,” he said.
He says the financial institution will be very ready to advance loans to farmers once they have viable projects on dairy and poultry.
“I think we are going to change the mindset of farmers, don’t only depend on sugarcane, last time when we were going around this region and people could not hear anything else apart from sugarcane farming,” he said.
With their extension officers, Meso says farmers were made aware to expand on their farming by intruding two to three dairy cows in their farms.
AFC board chairman Franklin Bett however challenged the institution staff to always follow the money they are giving out to farmers.
Bett says they should encourage farmers to share their business plans before loans are advanced to them.
“I want to urge every farmer here and I want also to urge staff of AFC to make sure that the farmer prepare a business plan to the activities they are pluging into and they follow them to the latter,” he said.
He says most farmers divert the loans to other ventures thus losing focus on the intended purpose of the funds.
Bett says AFC staff must now be ready to monitor farmers who share their business plans to help them grow.
“We have seen in the past, farmers get loans for poultry but ends up in mtumba business, we must desist from such things,” he said.