October 3, 2014 by presa
By Judith Nzyoka
Farmer’s Life, a for profit company in Partnership with ICRAF (PRESA) is piloting a conditional low-interest microfinance approach with farmers in Sasumua watershed as an incentive to plant grass strips to reduce soil erosion and maintain agricultural yields. Grass strips planted at intervals appropriate to the gradient of farm land have been shown to form barriers and cause soil to build up with potential to conserve soil fertility and improve crop yield to form small terraces.
The credit system allows farmer’s access to progressively higher levels of agricultural credit at progressively lower interest rates, conditional upon credit repayment, and improving their on-farm soil and water conservation measures which serve improved soil fertility and watershed protection. The credit is coupled with advisory service to help farmers build effective soil and water conservation measures, boost crop yields, and obtain better prices for their produce. Access to farming advice is also contingent on building soil and water conservation measures and reinforces the incentive delivered through the credit system. Additionally the advisory services build a strong relationship with farmers, thereby reducing loan default risk.
Results of this study will contribute to filling data, knowledge and literature gaps on incentives for soil and water conservation in Kenya. Recommendations will be made on extension services, microfinance and watershed management policies in Kenya and Africa. In addition the results will help to promote sustainable agriculture through sustainable financial system promoting farming community capital base.