The African Development Bank (AfDB) has committed Sh338 million to the Fertilizer Financing for Sustainable Agriculture Management project, signifying a significant step in promoting sustainable agricultural practices in Kenya. Through Nairobi-based Apollo Agriculture Limited, it intends to channel these funds to support the distribution of over 7,000 tonnes of fertilizer. This allocation is set to benefit at least 100,000 smallholder farmers, marking an essential stride towards their support.
Agricultural Development: Implementing a Strategic Approach
On October 13, AfDB’s board of directors approved the project, underscoring its significance: ensuring access to crucial farming inputs for small-scale farmers. As a specialized fund within AfDB, the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM), steps in with contributions, Sh304.9 million towards partial trade credit guarantees and Sh33.3 million as grant funding, to rapidly provide necessary support for Kenya’s agricultural sector. The challenge of distributing fertilizers swiftly poses a critical issue for smallholder farmers, and this strategic allocation aims to expedite fertilizer distribution in Kenya.
Aiming for Change that Positively Impacts
Next year marks the commencement of a three-year program poised to significantly impact the agricultural landscape. Apollo Agriculture Limited, entrusted with fertilizer distribution, plans to exploit its vast network, involving approximately 150 retail agro-dealers and 800 village-based agents in this distribution through digital platforms.
Benjamin Njenga, co-founder of Apollo Agriculture, emphasizes the critical nature of this initiative for smallholder farmers. These farmers usually obtain fertilizers through informal credit channels, microfinance institutions, and commercial banks. The issue at hand pertains to accessibility in fertilizer financing, a significant challenge for those who cannot offer collateral. With optimism, Njenga states that his partnership with the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism conveniently facilitates accessibility and affordability of essential farming inputs for small-scale farmers, thus elevating their income and bolstering Kenya’s food security.
Marie Claire Kalihangabo, the coordinator of the Africa Fertiliser Financing Mechanism, underscored the project’s inclusive approach. The project plans to channel funds through it with a primary focus on benefiting women and youth in agriculture. Emphatically stating that this initiative will enhance farming productivity by enabling smallholder farmers at their doorstep access to and use of fertilisers; she specifically noted: “We anticipate that 50%—a significant proportion, will be women.”
The initiative, emphasized by the AfDB, aligns with its Feed Africa Strategy; aiming to stimulate private sector fertiliser financing in Kenya. The institution envisions a result: an enhancement of food productivity and security that will bolster overall economic development within the country.