Livestock farmers appeal to President Kenyatta to waive their loans
Livestock farmers in Kajiado County have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to waive loans that they owe the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) following loss of thousands of animals to drought.
The farmers complained that they had lost hundreds of livestock as a result of the prolonged drought and could not be able to repay the loans.
Led by Mzee Peter Olo Ntasati, the farmers lamented that it was unfair that only 1, 200 farmers from Kajiado County who had taken loans from AFC by 2014, benefitted from the loans waiver directed by President Kenyatta in 2017.
Ntasati said the government should have considered all the livestock farmers as they have all been affected by the drought and that many of them were now distressed and have defaulted payment as they did not have an alternative source of income.
“It is unfair that only a few people benefitted from the waiver, yet the drought has affected all of us. We have lost all our cattle. The loans are now accruing a lot of interest and we do not have the means of paying them. How will we pay the loans now?” posed Ntasati.
Ntasati further complained that non-locals had benefitted from the waiver leaving out locals who were most hit by the drought.
In 2017, President Kenyatta waived loans amounting to Sh. 1.5 billion owed to AFC by farmers in Kajiado, Narok and Baringo counties.
The loans had been taken by farmers to support wheat, sorghum and livestock farming, but due to erratic rainfall patterns, they had incurred losses and were unable to repay them.
AFC Head of operations Manager, Millicent Omukhanga however clarified that AFC will not waive any more loans owed by farmers as the directive by the President had already been implemented and those affected benefitted.
She called on the farmers who did not benefit from the waiver and are in distress to visit their offices so that they could work out a plan of repaying the loans, instead of defaulting without notice as the loans continue to accrue interests.
“I want to clarify that the waiver announced by the President last year has already been implemented and the farmers who qualified from the waiver had their loans written off. We are not writing off any loans unless the President issues another directive. We understand that the drought had persisted and those who cannot afford to continue repaying the loans should visit our offices so that we can work out a repayment plan,” said Omukhanga.
Omukhanga further noted that all farmers from the county who were distressed and had old loans dating back to 2014 benefitted from the waiver regardless of their tribe.
“We were not looking at the community one comes from when issuing the waiver. As long as one is a resident of Kajiado and qualified for the waiver, then they benefitted.” Omukhanga added.
By Rop Janet