By Albert Lemomo
Kajiado livestock farmers are a happy lot after the Africa Finance Corporation waived their debts following the presidential directive issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kajiado during his campaign tour a week ago.
With Kajiado County being largely populated by pastoralist community, livestock farmers in the County are among the most hard hit with drought that has led to death of many cattle’s and depreciation of livestock prices in the market, hence making it difficult for farmers to repay their outstanding Agricultural Finance Corporation loans.
According to Agricultural Finance Corporation Board Chairman Franklin Bett, the corporation has embarked on the exercise of returning the title deeds to Kajiado farmers as the first County, “The Corporation has started to return livestock farmers title deeds that were being held by the crediting corporation as collateral for their loans to those that have old and distressed loans.” Bett said.
The waiver has come as a big boost to the farmers with many of them had already lost hope and ways of repaying the loans. “Many of us, we were ready to allow the Agriculture Finance Corporation to start auctioning our wealth because we it was becoming a burden to us, with our livestock perishing due to ongoing drought that even up to today we are still yet to recover from the losses but i am glad that the promise has been honored and we are now relieved that we can be able to support our families fully.” Mutunkei Lesinko said.
Although, the process went smoothly the Board Chairman of the corporation was put to task to explain the criteria of choosing the beneficiaries of the waiver with farmers who did not receive their title deeds as they had hope lamenting, “We are reading mischief in this exercise because the President was very categorical that all farmers will benefit from the waiver not just a few people that we have seen here, the drought has affected everyone not just a few people and we are feeling aggrieved.” Claims that have been downplayed by AFC Managing Director Lucas Meso that the pardon is strictly for those who have failed to repay their loans completely or are facing problems according to their records. “Those farmers who are old and distressed are the ones that largely going to benefit from the program first and the n the others will follow because the exercise is still at an infant stage.” Meso assured.
The Board Chair of the AFC Franklin Bett has also put on notice those individuals that are masquerading as AFC staffs and are siphoning money from farmers lying to them that their names will be put on the list for them also to benefit as blatant lies., “We have reports that in Narok County, there are people who are extorting monies from farmers claiming they are our staff and they are registering farmers for 2000ksh in order for them to be on the pardon list, we are appealing to the police to act quickly and to tell farmers no one is registering anybody, we have our records and that is what we will follow.” Bett said.
A total of Ksh 1.5 billion loan is expected to be waived to pastoralist farmers in Kajiado, Narok, Baringo, Tana River and Busia Counties.