In a bid to encourage the country’s youth to venture into agribusiness by adopting greenhouse farming, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and agro inputs supplier Amiran Kenya Ltd have launched the AgriVijana loan scheme, with a first phase budgeted to the tune of Kshs 150 million, to help youth in organized groups to acquire the AgriVijana Amiran Farmers Kit.
During the launch of the loan, YEDF chair James Gitau Singh said that from the year 2011, the Fund has focused on providing sector specific loans to the youth to enable them take advantage of their talents as well as resources within their locality.
“The AgriVijana loan will be provided to youth groups across the country to buy a complete Farmers Kit from Amiran Kenya. In the first phase, we have set aside Kshs 150 million to help purchase 420 kits, two per constituency,” said Gitau, adding that the AFK also comes with seeds and pesticides.
The AgriVijana loan scheme will be disbursed in batches of Kshs 358,344 per group. The Amiran Farmers Kit (AFK) to be purchased consists of 2 green houses; a drip irrigation system for the 2 green houses; seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals; group training and agro support and a CIC insurance package.
Statistics indicate that currently, an estimated 60 per cent of the 40 million population is under the 35 years, while an estimated 64 per cent of the unemployed comprise the youth. In light of this, the loan programme hopes to address the country’s youth unemployment problem.
Amiran Kenya Managing Director Pinhas Moskovich, said that even with the high unemployment figures among them, most youth “perceive farming as something one does to survive after retirement.”
“As part of the AgriVijana scheme, YEDF and Amiran will embark on an advocacy to raise awareness among the youth on the financial opportunities that modern agribusiness offers” said Moskovich. He added that the firm has in the past trained over 500 officers from the Ministry of Agriculture ensuring that in the effort to strengthen the agriculture sector, government and private sector work in a coordinated effort.
The first phase of the AgriVijan role out, targets about 5,000 youth, in the process creating jobs and enhancing the country’s food security.
“The loan has a 4-month grace period, which may also be adjusted to accommodate crops which take longer to mature and repayment has been restructured to correspond to seasons. For instance repayments will be higher during high yielding seasons and lower during lower yielding seasons,” stated Gitau.
The loan is to be repaid in three cycles, running for up to 3 years. Each 12-month cycle will be divided as follows: the 4-month grace period after the installation of the greenhouse; 5-8 months for high yield season during which the group will be required to pay Kshs 17,425 per month while the 9-12 months will be classified as the lower yielding season when the group pays Kshs 10,000 per month.
To qualify for the loan, the group’s composition must be 70 per cent youth, with the leader being within the target age-bracket, and the group must be registered in the constituency from where it is applying for the loan. Other requirements include access to land and water as well as knowledge and experience in agriculture.
To access the loan, which attracts no interest, the groups will have to contribute 10 per cent of the loan amount (about Kshs 36,000).
Apart from its partnership with the YEDF, Amiran has through its AFK programme launched other initiatives including the ‘Amiran-Youth Polytechnics Next Generation Farmers Initiative’ in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, for which the two partners received the 2011 MDG Trust Fund Award for Youth Empowerment, and the ‘Amiran Next Generation Farmers Initiative’ together with Kenya Red Cross Society, through which the kits have so far been distributed to over 500 schools, exposing about 100,000 students to modern agro-technologies and methods.