Most people living in rural areas in Kenya and Tanzania are dependent on agriculture. Its their main source of food and income. A larger number of this farmer population are small holder farmers dependent on produce from their small tracts of land. Traditionally, farmers would preserve a portion of their harvest at the end of every season to act as seed for the next crop. Despite the fact that this practice was cost free, it negatively affected the quality of harvest through the years resulting in diminishing crop output. This was the preffered method in many of the areas Agrics started its work in.
By working closely with farmers and farmer groups, we promoted the use of certified seeds and fertilizer which have significantly improved the situation. However, good seeds are difficult to obtain in the isolated rural areas where poverty ratings range between 50% and 70% and the costs were an obstacle for the farmers.
Agrics offers small farmers the opportunity to buy certified seeds and fertilizer by offering credit bundles which allow them to pay for the preffered products in installments spread over 7 months. Apart from these core products, farmers can also buy extra materials or services, including improved local breeds of poultry, solar lamps, storage facilities such as the metallic maize silos or tractor rental for better land preparation. Farmers are also given around six months to pay for these costs. Since the farmers are engaged through farmer groups, they manage and track their repayment progress and should any difficulties arise, group members act as each others guarantors to ensure the entire amount loaned is recovered.
Once a week the farmers hold their group meetings where Agrics facilitates a Community Facilitator to meet with and offer extension support services to the farmers. It is also during these sessions that the farmers make a weekly deposit towards their loans gradually paying off the amount owed. They determine how much they pay per week depending also on their credit portfolio. In Kenya, the money collected is submitted through a mobile money platform that ofers a fast and reliable means to remit the amounts back to Agrics. The money is transferred directly into Agrics’ account. In Tanzania payments are still being made in cash, but very soon it will be done through a mobile system as well.
To ensure the farmer attains maximum output from their credit bundles, agrics offers training through out the crop life cycle - from land preparation to post harvest handling. Working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and a group of agri-experts from the Netherlands - PUM experts; Agrics is able to train selected farmers from each community who thereafter act as the resident extension support provider. Through their interaction with farmers, they are able to have quick access to technical support, learn new agronomic practices and improve their application of knowledge acquired onto their fields.