Government signs credit agreement for farmers
The Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, has signed an agreement of Sh 300m with Equity Bank Limited to support farmers for the second phase of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS).
The signing of Phase II of the ACGS agreement marks the 3rd time that the Ministry was partnering with Equity Bank, with the first being in 2008 through the Kilimo Biashara Partnership and the second being in 2011 through the ACGS Phase 1 agreement.
The partnership was a risk sharing arrangement where the Government provides a guarantee fund to cushion the Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) for any proven credit loss of the outstanding credit amount in default.
In addition to credit, Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) offer farmers other services such as capacity building, savings/deposits and linkage to crop insurance and markets.
The initiative, under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework, would facilitate access to affordable financial services for the small holder farmers, thus spurring commercialization of farming in a sector that has been plagued by low production, poor marketing, low financial literacy and misconception.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at Kilimo House, Nairobi, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Mr. Willy Bett said the partnership with Equity Bank would help accelerate efficient and effective service delivery to low income beneficiaries in the agricultural sector thus bringing them into the formal financial system.
“This signing ceremony clearly symbolizes the strengthening of the Public Private Partnership between private organization and the Government,’’ Bett said.
Equity Bank Chief Executive Officer Dr. James Mwangi said the total Kilimo Biashara loans disbursed by the end of 2016 were over Sh.7b having benefited 472, 632 farmers since 2008.
“Kilimo Biashara has been a flagship partnership from which lessons have been used across the continent due to its impact to farming and related businesses,” Dr. Mwangi said.
He noted that the Implementation of Kilimo Biashara partnership was an opportunity to enhance technology as farmers required to do their banking closer to their farms so as to save on costs and time.
Equity Bank was the first bank to introduce agency banking in Kenya and currently has over 29, 000 agents spread across the country.
“We have enhanced this with self-service channels such as Equitel and Eazzy Banking digital products that encourage banking anywhere anytime,” he added.
To support this process, the Ministry would provide policy guidance through the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee (ICC), mobilize and strengthen farmers groups, capacity building of players in various value chains, monitor scheme performance, report and follow-up.
By Wangari Ndirangu