Kenyan small holder farmers are among more than half a million others from Ghana and Tanzania lined up for Sh 1.4 billion ($ 15.5 Million) windfall to help them access seeds, post harvest technologies and storage facilities.
A joint programme by Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the MasterCard Foundation is designed to improve productivity and incomes of almost 730,000 smallholder farmers in the three economies.
The initiative to be implemented over the next five years is expected to improve food security and enhance the role of smallholder farmers to the economy.
AGRA said it will leverage on the project to improve markets, soils, and access to high-yield crop varieties for the smallholder farmers, particularly women.
“The project will promote access to financial services for smallholders through financial institutions and agriculture value chain actors, especially agro-dealers, aggregators, warehouse operators and farmer based organizations.” said AGRA president, Dr. Agnes Kalibata.
It will also target other parts of the value chain, agribusinesses with a keen focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a cartegory that still struggle to obtain sufficient working and investment capital.
“SME’s are critical to strengthening and developing food value chains,” said Kalibata.
Over 70 percent of domestically produced food comes from small holder farmers despite difficulties in access improved seed, farm equipment, credit, extension services, and legal rights to the lands they cultivate.
Studies have shown, a percentage growth in farm productivity contributes to an 11 percent reduction in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
Director of Financial Inclusion at the MasterCard Foundation, Ann Miles said the initiative will strongly emphasise on developing and scaling up innovations, such as the use of ICT and other branchless banking tools, to support farmer access to financial and non-financial services.
“We believe that making it possible for smallholder farmers and small to medium-sized enterprises to access credit, savings, and insurance services, and helping them connect to strong market value chains, is critical to driving transformation of the agricultural sector in Africa,” said Miles.