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Under the USAID Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP), FCI staff offered pre-credit training for farmers in the Kadem area, Nyanza region. This action was precipitated by FCI’s understanding that smallholders in Africa often lack the startup capital required to make the initial investment for their desired agro enterprise to kick off. As a result of the training, these farmers, who ordinarily would not qualify under the stringent credit market conditions were offered credit with a minimal interest rate of 10% for 18 months on assets, and 10% for four months on farm inputs. What a deal!

Farmers were trained on the meaning of credit and its uses, equipped with the required knowledge and skills to enable them to use credit to attain profit, to teach the smallholder farmers the merits and demerits of credit, introduce farmers into commercialization through CVM and teach them on collective marketing.

Farmers were trained on specific facets of money and how credit works. In particular, they were taken through money functions, investments, loans, marketing, financial planning, record keeping, risk management, smallholder commercialization through CVM, and an implementation plan to exercise what they learned.

The training bore fruit as several key achievements were recorded by the FCI team. Firstly, the training led to the establishment of LIDIP Commercial Village, including its structures, as the participants were intrigued by both the concept and benefits of collective marketing. Secondly, the groups’ representatives, namely the chairmen of the sub committees of the commercial village, applied for loans, now freshly equipped with the knowledge of how credit can be beneficial to their soon-to-be farm enterprises when prudently managed. Indeed six commercial producer groups (CPGs) immediately qualified for loans worth Ksh 1.850 million (USD 21,764) in the form of water pumps, plastic water tanks, pipes of different types and sizes, farm inputs including seeds and chemicals, day old chicks, wire mesh and barbed wire.

Through this training and other similar ones, the smallholder farmers, who had themselves been farming for between one to five years prior to partnering with FCI, were able to see a glimmer of light for their activities. Previously unknown to FCI staff was that these farmers had been hoping for a chance to participate in their market environment but various constraints made that an impossible fete. Going forward, the farmers have an opportunity to enjoy credit facilities, and commercialize.

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FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.