Small agribusinesses find
hope after Sh190m boost

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022 08:17 | By
FROM LEFT: Sereni Fries MD Humphrey Mburu, Bubayi Products Limited MD Lucy Mayer and Prosoya Kenya Limited CEO Kaburu Muguika receive the cheque from EU’s Myra Benardi, Slovak Ambassador Katarina Leligdonova, and Self Help Africa’s Sunita Kapila and Evelyn Gandani. PD/WAHINYA HENRY

Three smallholder agribusinesses, which were on the verge of collapse due to the harsh effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy have benefited from a Sh190 million financial assistance from the European Union (EU) in Nairobi.

The beneficiaries are among 37 agribusinesses of the EU backed AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund from 43 counties, which have received grants amounting Sh2.4 billion in the last three years.

Prosoya Kenya Limited, Bubayi Products and Sereni Fries Limited small and medium sized agri-enterprises (agri-SMEs) will use the cash to upscale critical innovation and growth of their enterpises.

Sereni Fries is a potato processor and producer of a range of popular potato chip snacks, Prosoya Kenya manufactures animal feed from crops, including sorghum and millet, while Bubayi Limited processes and sells certified bean seed.

“Small holder farmers are key in the agriculture sector development. Often they face the challenge of accessing improved production technologies, market linkages to private sector and access to finance,” head of section agriculture, job creation and resilience at the EU offices in Nairobi, Myra Bernardi said recently during the funding announcement recently.

Bernardi said, the grants, to date, have created close to 4,000 new jobs and established a market for up to 45,000 small holder farmers in 10 different value chains across the country.

These have, included solar irrigation, cotton, pyrethrum, coffee, sorghum, nuts, gums, potatoes, apiculture, cereals and pulses. The AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund is an initiative of the European Union and co-funded by SlovakAid to support productive and market-integrated smallholder agriculture through the provision of financial support.

European Union Ambassador to Kenya, Henriette Geiger in a congratulatory message delivered by Bernardi said; “The three companies have been chosen based on their innovative ideas and their social impact. We expect this grant to go a long way in creating more jobs and integrating smallholder farmers in value chains while introducing climate smart agriculture innovative practices.”

Receive technical assistance The funds have leveraged Sh4.4 billion in private sector investment from commercial banks in Kenya, international financing institutions and companies own resources.

“In addition to the financial support, the awardees have benefitted from technical assistance on enterprise development, social inclusion and market linkages,” said acting Self Help Africa non-governmental orgaorganisation (NGO), that implements the project in Kenya, country director, Evelyn Gandani.

Gandani underscored the need for development partners to support the agriculture sector, saying it is the main driver and creator of close to 40 per cent of jobs in the agriculture sector by creating opportunities for smallholder farmers.

“That is why we are implementing programmes, such asa AgriFI to incentivise private sector investments through bankable businesses, which in turn contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” she noted. Competitive value chains through access to agricultural inputs, market linkages, improved seed varieties, climate smart practices and digitised agricultural sector information, small-scale farmers, have progressively diversified into competitive value chains thus improving their household incomes and livelihoods, she said.

Gandani said the outbreak of Covid-19 resulted in big losses to the beneficiaries of the awardees as production cost escalated and access to international markets was curtailed.

“Products were not moving and massive lay offs ensued. The severity of the impact varied from one enterprise to another,” said Gandani as the fund moved to find ways to support recovery.

 AgriFI challenge fund is responding to the challenges and changing environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic through an allocation of Sh190 million Covid-19 Response and Recovery restricted Call.

With support from AgriFI, Instaveg Limited, a horticultural processor operating in Kirinyaga county has been able to secure and enhance the support it offers to over 300 contracted out growers, retain its staff, resume processing operations with greater efficiency, and reach new high value export markets, all within the space of a year.

Bernardi also announced EU commitment to continue supporting the ‘Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP)’ project, which is funded by the European Union (EU) and anchored within the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.

United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) implements MARKUP that aims at improving the competitiveness of small-scale farmers in Kenya.

She says the aim is to increase the quality and volume of the produce and at the same time, enhance the competitiveness of Kenyan agriproducts to access markets; generate more foreign exchange; and improve the socio-economic conditions of the farmers

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