1,000 smallholder maize farmers in Embu County are set to benefit from access to digital credit for inputs and insurance to boost agricultural production.
Through a financing agreement between Family Bank and DigiFarm, the farmers based in Mbeere North and South sub-counties will be able to borrow and access the funds digitally through the agri-tech platform. The smallholder farmers, with a maximum of two acres each, will receive financing depending on acreage size and crop cycle.
In addition to financing, the farmers will receive innovative insurance, training on sustainable agricultural practices, market linkage and financial literacy to promote farming resilience and produce.
“The last five years, we have been running a similar programme that supports farmers and those farmers have since graduated from subsistence to commercial farming. We are therefore happy that those farmers can graduate to this partnership and get credit in form of farm inputs,” said Runyenjes Sub-County Agricultural Officer Stephen Njagi.
Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties such as Embu often face low agricultural produce due to production shocks such as droughts and diseases. According to the Economic Survey 2023 released by the Kenya Bureau of National Statistics, the production volume of maize in Kenya declined by 6.5 per cent to 34.3 million bags in 2022.
“Despite the high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and market inefficiencies, farmers continue to face a lack of access to efficient and convenient funding to buy essential farming products. However, technology adoption and such multisector partnerships are increasing financial inclusion, especially for smallholder farmers,” said Family Bank Lead Digital Transformation Aristarichus Kuria.
“As a Bank, our focus has therefore been to always provide end-to-end value to our customers. We are confident that through this partnership we will not only improve farmers’ financial resilience to these shocks but through technology we will reduce their costs and improve profitability that will help break the cycle of low investment and low returns,” he said.
Through this partnership, registered farmers will be able to redeem their credit vouchers to receive farm inputs from the DigiFarm partner agrovets in the county.
“Digifarm will continue to leverage technology and partnerships to reduce the financing gap faced by smallholder farmers, and drive climate resilient solutions. Through our platform, farmers are able to access a full range of services to drive production improvements. They receive agronomy advice, credit for inputs, insurance and other services and can then connect with buyers during harvest. We are committed to transforming the agriculture sector through technology,” said Seema Gohil, Director, Digifarm.
Family Bank and DigiFarm will further extend the partnership to sorghum farmers in Meru County. This partnership comes following a program spearheaded by the International Food Policy Research Institute which has set out to implement a risk-contingent credit program to assess whether innovative insurance products can increase access to finance by smallholder farmers.