News / Africa

'Green Loans' Help Kenya's Farmers

Nancy Njeri, a farmer, inspects coffee cherries at a plantation in Kienjege, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 24, 2014.
Nancy Njeri, a farmer, inspects coffee cherries at a plantation in Kienjege, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 24, 2014.
Hannah McNeish

A quarter of Kenya's population are farmers. Few of these 10 million have ever received training on how to improve their production or how to expand their businesses with financing. Most of these farmers shun the idea of a loan after seeing neighbors lose livestock or whole farms when they can't keep up with repayments to loan sharks.  

Now a new company is offering cash for conservation measures, though, in the hope that so-called "green loans" will help farmers with better borrowing terms, while teaching them how to protect Kenya's most fertile soils and ensure that the country can keep feeding itself.
 
Fifty-year-old Samuel Karioki has been farming since he left school, harvesting the same vegetable crop each season.
 
But this year, Karioki's neat rows of cabbages are bursting into one another, and he is expecting a bumper crop of potatoes.

Micro financing

After years of struggle, his success is thanks to a $90 loan that he used to buy top quality seeds and fertilizer for the first time.
 
"We've had a lot of problems," he said noting a lack of finances, then a lack of market and then infestations of bugs and diseases. He said he never wanted to take a loan before that because there's always so much collateral.
 
Karioki has seen farmers in this mountainous region, a couple of hours outside Kenya's capital Nairobi, lose everything to loan sharks after failing to keep up with repayments.
 
His experience was different, however, because of a new micro finance company called F3 Life. It offers small cash loans starting from as little as $20 to as high as $180 dollars, depending on repayments and the completion of basic conservation practices.
 
The scheme, designed by conservationist Mark Ellis-Jones, includes free monthly training in farming aimed at boosting productivity.
 
"We also provide a loan where we peg the interest rates to the quality of soil conservation that a farmer is practicing. We ask farmers to build grass strips across the contours of their slopes, which prevents the loss of top soil from their farms," said Ellis-Jones.
 
As the loans increase, farmers are asked to plant trees to increase the protection of fertile top soils from being washed away. F3 Life said such simple measures can extend the soil life from about 20 years to 1,000 years.
 
In this area, where vast patches of brown dot the once verdant hillsides, the soils might last only another decade.

Preserving soils

Continuing land degradation could pose serious problems for a growing country's ability to feed its inhabitants. Over the past 50 years, the world has lost one third of its arable soils.
 
F3 Life agronomist Ngigi Obadiah said he hopes to roll out nationwide the "green loans" pilot plan in an effort to save Kenya's soils as the population booms.
 
"At the moment we are servicing 52 clients. We are anticipating to increase the number to 350 in one year's time. In two years' time we anticipate up to 10,000, and half a million in the next five years," said Obadiah.
 
Samuel Karioki said his cabbages are the talk of the town, and many farmers already are sold on the idea of green loans that can help the entire community.
 
As profits grow higher than the tall grasses protecting his plot, he plans to buy a pickup truck. That will enable him to cut out the middlemen who make a small fortune selling farmers' produce at a market, which now will soon be in his reach.
 

 

 

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs