Japanese Agency Gives $3m Grant to Women Agricultural Project
NAIROBI--A Japanese agency has given US$ 3 million towards a project that will boost women’s access to agricultural markets and trade.
The grant by the Japan Social Development Fund will be released by the World Bank to GROOTS Kenya (a network of women led community based organizations and self help groups) who will in turn work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture. The first phase of the project is Molo and Kitui districts.
Speaking at the launch of the project in Molo on Tuesday, Mary Kamau, the director of agricultural extension in the Ministry of Agriculture said the project will build the capacity of farmers to be competitive in the global markets through provision of technical support, technology transfer and access to real time marketing information.
Mrs Kamau said the project intends to promote dairy production and horticulture in the areas of Molo and Kitui.
She said the government will construct a market in Molo to enhance trade in farm products.
According to Esther Mwaura, GROOTS Kenya national coordinator, the project aims to organize farmers to begin to work together to lobby the government for services that would boost their farming.
She added that the project will also enhance women marketing capacity thereby do away with brokers who have over the years been accused of exploiting small scale farmers.
Mwaura said the project is informed by the government’s decision to improve its investment in agriculture in bid to boost the sector’s contribution to GDP in line with the Vision 2030. “This can only be done by empowering the rural woman’s participation in agricultural marketing,” she said.
Among the challenges that the project intends to address include the presence of cartels in the agricultural market and have exploited farmers for years.
For example, said Mrs Mwaura, a Molo potato farmer sells their extended bags (180kg) at Ksh1,800 while the cartel will sell this same bag in Nairobi at Ksh7000.
The second challenge that the project will address is that farmers do trade in the market as individuals and make bargaining hard. They are also still marketing their produce raw with little value addition. Mrs Mwaura said the project will help farmers to come together to form groups which will help them penetrate local and regional markets under one united body.
The grant will provide seed grants to women to help them establish businesses to add value to what they grow and help them be entrepreneurs.
The project will be implemented in three years with a grant from the Japanese Embassy through World Bank.
Agriculture contributes to 60% of Kenya’s exports, employing 75% of the population and 26% to the GDP.