Ecosystem Investing Through Sustainable Seed Finance
For the last 20 months we have dedicated our efforts on forming a fruit cultivation cluster of small-scale farmers in Trans-nzoia County. We are on the ground observing and listening to clients’ pain points with the intention of crafting solutions to enable them embrace profitable horticulture. As we were interacting with small scale farmers, one thing that came out clearly was that lack of capital, skills and technical know-how made it impossible for farmers to practice profitable horticulture. We are in the process of designing a product to help such farmers get certified fruit seedlings and technical support needed to practice fruit farming profitably. Land, labour and time to attend training sessions is all a farmer needs to provide. Our target main target crop is Avocado, both for local and export market.
Fruit cultivation, with proper management & marketing can be very profitable. From the onset one should be aware of the fact that; there are good years when you earn good money, there are mediocre years when you earn some money and there are years when you are likely to get nothing. A shrewd farmer should have strategies in place to absorb any shocks. Hence the need to develop a demo farm and form clusters of fellow farmers with an aim of sharpening each other’s skills through the exchange of knowledge & ideas. These will make fellow farmers well prepared to deal with any eventualities and craft local solutions without any great assistance from any quarters.
This pilot project targets 500-1000 farmers in Kitale and its surrounding environs to plant a total of 10,000 grafted avocado trees. Avocado cultivation has great challenges unknown to a new farmer. Our duty is to ensure such farmers learn from our mistakes instead of their own. We are envisioning starting a whole entity that provides sustainable and regenerative seed finance as we try to apply permaculture design principles to finance. The burning question is; How can a small farmer access loan/finance products that create and regenerate value rather than extract value? The idea here is to offer farmers a loan product that empowers them to be regenerative investors. We provide seedlings and will continue to provide support and training, and monitor the growth of the fruit trees to ensure that maximum benefit is achieved. The farmer in turn pays using part of the harvest, a given number of fruits per tree. Payment of our services will be tied on achievement of desired outcomes and not outputs. Planting the trees only will not guarantee payment, we must ensure there is real market where farmers will earn new income.
We are transitioning to full time extension service provider where the payment of our products & services will be determined by the achievement of outcomes. Capacity building and training of the farmers alone will not guarantee success, we must assure farmers of real market that will generate income. Despite the many challenges faced by small scale farmers, agriculture still remains the fundamental task essential for the survival of wo/mankind. Africa is largely tropical and subtropical, with proper strategies put in place fruit production can be a leading source of income.
A good number of African countries are encouraging their farmers to turn to fruit farming as a better source of income. Kenya is ahead of the pack when it comes to producing quality avocadoes, ranked closely with South Africa. We have received several hass avocado inquiries from Nigeria, Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, sierra-Leone & Rwanda. This indicates more countries are embracing horticulture to realize the ultimate goal of development which is a high standard of living for their citizens. In the coming years there will be great competition among African countries for the world market.
For Kenya, more acres of land are being converted into hass avocado orchards. In areas such as Uasin Gishu & Trans-nzoia, local governments are supporting farmers to transition to Avocado, coffee & macadamia cultivation. Such efforts are good for the growth of the industry but much need to be done to ensure we maintain our leading position. One strategic advantage will be in establishing processing firms in the various production regions. These will offer small-scale farmers ready market and avoid dependence on the export market.
Technical know-how and skills development will give us an edge. There is a lack of skilled wo/manpower in this sector hence the need for training & capacity building. Higher institutions of learning should come up with certified courses on horticulture targeting fruit production. Avocado is among the top export earners and deserves a customized course on avocado cultivation & management, processing & marketing. Leading avocado cultivation counties should ensure their local higher institutions’ of learning offer practical courses on avocado cultivation & management best practices. The many acres of avocado need competent local managers to deliver quality fruits that compete in the world market.
This project cannot be effective without local presence hence the need to acquire land or partner with farmers who are willing to set up demo farms that will be used as centres that will go a long way to implement our various project. Our Kitale demo farm is still under development and will be opened to farmers once we get the necessary certifications. It’s an acre and we have planted mostly avocado and other fruits such as apples, grafted lemon, persimmon, grafted pears, Litchi, grafted peach etc. We are also doing trials to see if grafted apricot, kiwi, grafted nectarine, dragon fruit and grafted grapes can do well in Trans-Nzoia. For prompt response reach us on +254715963005.