Press News – EIB supports shepherds in Kenya – EIB

In Kenya, climate change funding provides relief to pastoralists affected by drought. The European Union supports this lending activity because local banks are reluctant to provide finance in these remote areas.
Just outside the village of Konya in West Pokot County, Alex Losur Angura raises goats outside his mud hut. His colorful coat is constantly tangled in the surrounding sharp shrubs, typical of this arid area in northwestern Kenya.

“Even when it rains, it’s never enough,” complains Alex. “The grass does not grow. We have to get to Uganda. This is our biggest problem. “

During the dry season, shepherds like Alex Losur Angura have to relocate to graze their livestock. Nowadays, drought in the region is increasing due to climate change. During these movements, some animals die of hunger or disease, others succumb to the attacks of cattle thieves. Conflicts erupt between communities, especially when Kenyan herders cross the Ugandan border in search of greener pastures that can provide forage plants and water for their animals.

“When our animals die, we have no means of subsistence,” he explains. “We sell these animals so that we can buy food. If they disappear, we will starve. “

Recently, Alex’s working conditions have improved with the opening of a new farm shop in Kanyao, very close to Kenya’s western border. Paves Vetagro, a food company that benefits from funding from the European Investment Bank, has just opened its latest store there. The company provides educational services and agricultural products to farmers and cattle ranchers in these remote areas of northwestern Kenya. In the shop, local farmers and shepherds can buy everything from animal feed to veterinary medicines, including vaccines, but also supplies, such as agricultural equipment, fertilizers and seeds adapted to climate change.

“Paves Vetagro helped us a lot. Now the animals give birth without problems and give a lot of milk, ”says Alex. Today he can easily contact the company’s vets and ask them to come and vaccinate his animals. He learned to give salt to cattle to keep them in better shape.

Local services for remote communities
Paves Vetagro was founded in 1999 by Benson Ririmpoi, a veterinarian born and raised in West Pokot County. The entrepreneur spared no efforts to help cattle ranchers and small farmers in the county, penalized by the region’s remoteness and lack of infrastructure.

He set up his business so that he can offer his services as close as possible to these isolated communities.

“We first positioned ourselves as a central service provider, so we identified the partners who live within these communities,” says Benson Ririmpoi.

In Kenya The EIB supports shepherds THE VIDEO (en)

Initially managed by Kapenguria, the county seat, the Paves Vetagro company has managed to establish this proximity to the communities thanks to the collaboration established with local retailers who offer agricultural products. In 2021, the company opened two new stores, including the one near Alex’s mud hut in Konya. On this occasion Paves Vetagro benefited from a loan of around 200,000 euros, supported by a European financing instrument, the mechanism in favor of value chains in the Kenyan agricultural sector (Kenya Agriculture Value Chain Facility).

The European Investment Bank created this facility in 2018 to help the country’s commercial banks provide more loans to farms to support smallholders. The mechanism is supported by a € 50 million loan signed in 2018 between the European Investment Bank and the Equity Bank, one of the main lenders of small Kenyan communities. It also benefits from a contribution of 10 million euros from the European Union. The loan and the contribution allow Equity Bank to access technical training and to offer many small loans to entrepreneurs or companies such as Paves Vetagro.

In March 2021, the European Investment Bank signed a new loan of 100 million euros with Equity Bank and the European Union approved a grant of 20 million euros. This new funding will help a wide range of businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the agricultural sector.

“The agricultural sector is the largest employer in Kenya. Smallholders and small agricultural businesses are key players in this, “says Nicholas Nzioka, Senior Loan Officer for the European Investment Bank in Nairobi.” These businesses and farmers, however, have limited access to banks and loans. “

Financial support for farmers is particularly welcome in Kenya, where agriculture accounts for 23% of gross domestic product. The sector employs almost 54% of Kenyans, but the many difficulties in obtaining a loan have hampered its development and modernization. Less than 5% of bank loans in Kenya benefit the agricultural sector, estimates Nicholas Nzioka.

Getting a loan wasn’t easy for Benson Ririmpoi, the vet behind Paves Vetagro.

“I contacted various financial partners, but when I mentioned where I would be based to do my business, in the arid and semi-arid areas of Western Pokot and Turkana, no one believed my plans,” he says. “But I had faith in my model and, having lived in this region, I knew that my plan could be successful. Even though this community doesn’t have a lot of money, in reality, it is ready to pay for the services. “

To train small farmers and shepherds
Paves Vetagro has also received a grant under a financial instrument set up by the European Union: the AgriFI Kenya Challenge fund encourages smallholder farmers and ranchers to practice sustainable agriculture. The grant and the loan complement each other. Paves Vetagro used the loan to expand their business and the grant to train more communities in good methods of producing and managing animal diseases. More than 7,000 small farmers and shepherds participated in the seminars led by professional veterinarians and agronomists who benefited from grants from the AgriFI Kenya Challenge fund.

Paves Vetagro has now opened eight stores in West Pokot and distributes its products in 12 counties in northern Kenya. The company employs more than 100 employees.

“The grant and the loan have really helped our business tremendously,” says Benson Ririmpoi. “Our plan was to expand our reach so that our ranchers and small farmers could access our services, products and markets. “

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