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Impacting smallholder sorghum farmers through contract farming

Machakos County agripreneurs continue to show their resilience in the agribusiness sector despite the county being one of the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya that are worst hit by the impacts of the climate change.

This has been seen in the large production of sorghum by one Alice Mathingau, the founder agribusiness solutions. The company which is based in Machakos has contracted more than 2000 smallholder farmers in Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties to aid in farming and post-harvesting of sorghum.

“There is a renewed interest in promoting drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum which is on high demand due to its nutritional value. However, I realized that performance of sorghum production among small scale farmers has always been low. This encouraged me to venture in this business, to try and incorporate different farmers in our company, where after farming, we offer them a harvesting package,” said Alice.

Contract farming has existed for many years as a way of organizing commercial agricultural production of both large scale and smallholder farmers, and for Alice, she believes this technique is bound to improve agricultural performance of smallholder farmers while using this process as a cost-effective way to improve their production.

“I came up with this technique to try and shift farmers’ mindset from the subsistence way of farming into the commercial way, and for sure, it has yielded great results,” she said.

Her company has been able to acquire a large quantity of sorghum from them due to availability of ready market, and the farmers, on the other hand, have received great support ranging from high-quality seeds and fertilizer inputs to much-needed services such as tractor ploughing and tractor planting and training on how to double sorghum production.

Having been selected among the 200 beneficiaries of the AgriBiz programme funded by European Union, Danida and implemented by Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, Alice takes pride in being one of the many women agripreneurs who have received Result Based Financing.

“Being an entrepreneur especially in the agribusiness sector is not easy, and without having someone to hold unto throughout the journey, entrepreneurs end up giving up due to lack of capital. I am glad to receive this financing which will enable me to widen my arms in this industry” added Alice.

She acknowledges EU, Danida and KCIC for believing in her company and seeing the value in sorghum farming which has always been one of the neglected crops in the country. She looks forward to incorporating more farmers into her company, investing in more ploughing and planting machinery and acquiring even more highly authentic agri inputs.