Kenya’s AFC to turn into ‘Farmers Bank’, but farmers oppose

Kenya’s new government has initiated a number of measures to spur a move from subsistence to commercial farming, including the conversion of the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) to a bank catering to farmers. Farmers in the Rift Valley have rejected the plan, however.

The new government headed by Uhuru Kenyatta has stated that the move away from subsistence farming would promote value addition. “Through the development of a vibrant agro-based industry, we shall not only ensure food security but also attain and sustain double-digit economic growth rates,” the president was quoted as saying.

One part of the package of measures is the conversion of the Agricultural Finance Corporation (a government owned development institution) into a farmer’s bank that would facilitate affordable credit, provide market information and streamline farmers cooperatives.

Precisely that proposal has met with fierce criticism from farmers in the country’s Rift Valley area, however. They fear the plan will force the AFC to operate under the Banking Act, which could expose the growers involved with it to high and fluctuating interest rates.

"The best option in to restructure AFC operations and give it more funds so that it can serve farmers better," comments Kenya National Farmers Union chairman Musa Barno.

Sources: The Star Kenya, Business Daily Africa

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