Nakuru — Nearly 3,000 farmers in Nakuru have been enrolled in a training program on sustainable poultry-keeping practices and feed formulation using locally available materials to boost earnings in the subsector.
The joint venture between the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) and County Government of Nakuru has also facilitated the smallholder poultry farmers within the devolved unit to get access to affordable agricultural inputs, improved high yielding and disease tolerant chicken breeds and market linkages.
In the partnership, NARIGP and the County Government of Nakuru have inked deals with various financial institutions and cooperative societies to offer training and affordable financing to smallholder poultry farmers in the county.
According to County NARIGP Coordinator Peter Githunguri, Sh94.7 million has so far been pumped into the procurement of animal feed formulation machinery, incubators, standby generators and other equipment for cooperative societies to help boost profitability in poultry production.
Githunguri says through NARIGP and County Government’s intervention, 212 Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) have received Sh83.9 million to upscale their operations with Bahati Sub-County Poultry Farmers’ Cooperative pocketing the lion’s share at Sh10 million.
Equity Bank has been incorporated into the program to equip the farmers with skills on online marketing opportunities, record keeping, productivity and quality management, business registration and legal issues among others. The poultry farmers are also trained on maintaining books of account and filing tax returns.
The program further incorporates an agribusiness component mainly targeting women and youth encouraging them to take up a leading role in co-operative management and also embrace agriculture as a way of employment.
Githunguri says that though most small-scale farmers roped into the initiative had been adversely affected by Covid-19 economic aftershocks, affordable financing remained a challenge due to high interest rates charged by credit financing institutions.
“NARIGP and the County Government have been lobbying financial institutions to realign their programs to enable our farmers adapt to the new reality caused by Covid-19 pandemic,” adds the County NARIGP Coordinator.
He says that lack of sufficient collateral, high cost of credit, and informal business structure had rendered most small-scale poultry farmers ineligible for financing, a situation that has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With reduced turnover and Covid-19 disruptions in the market and supply chains many Small and Medium Enterprises are unlikely to attract affordable and quality credit under the traditional arrangements,” Mr Githunguri adds.