NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 6 – Equity Bank’s effort in improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers saw it invest over Sh1.06 Billion to improve market access, capacity building and expansion of agricultural production value chain as of end of first quarter 2019.
These has seen at least 638,522 small scale farmers transformed to Agri-business entrepreneurs through eight of its agricultural projects and partnerships within the review period ending March 31, 2019.
The lenders first quarter data shows that the transformation is part of a Sh35.3 Billion investment in social programs through the Equity Group Foundation (EGF).
“To date, up to Sh200 Million has been accessed in loans by these farmers with 31,291 of them being medium sized farmers,” Equity Bank Group MD and CEO Dr. James Mwangi said.
Over 80% of the population derive their livelihoods mainly from agricultural related activities and it’s against this background that Equity has continued to give agriculture a high priority.
Among the agriculture projects spearheading the transformation is the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme (KCEP) where subsidy inputs worth Kshs764 Million was channelled to reach 400,000 farmers. The program enables farmers to access inputs from selected agro dealers through an E-voucher platform.
Other projects include the smallholder Dairy that targets to train 24,400 dairy farmers, Kenya Forest Services that has seen 2,374 farmers’ access loans worth Sh41.2 Million to promote farm forestry investments, and the Medium Size farm project that has seen 2,616 farmers trained on financial management and Good Agricultural practices.
Besides the above, the bank seeks to disburse Sh3 Billion worth of loans in the next five years to 100,000 farmers through its Kilimo Biashara project.
In this year’s annual Think Business Awards, the bank received the Best Bank in Agriculture and Livestock Financing among its 18 accolades validating its investment Social programs and empowering farmers.
Some of the partners with the bank include the government, World Bank, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Union (EU), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), and Kingdom of Netherlands.
According to the Economic Survey 2019 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the Agriculture sector real value added growth went up to 6.6 % last year.
Findings of the survey attribute the growth to increased production from crops and livestock due to favourable conditions.