COUNTRY’S smallholder farmers have received a boost after African Development Bank approved Sh6.49 billion [$63.5 million] in loans and grants.

The facility under the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme is comprised of Sh4.04 billion ($39.5 million) loan and Sh2.45 billion ($24 million) grant for onward lending towards small scale irrigation and value addition.

“The project focuses on scaling up the country’s successful small scale horticulture development project, which raised incomes to as high as US $18,000 [ Sh…] per hectare,” the bank says in a statement on its website. The cash will be advanced through various local banks.

AfDB said the programme is aligned to Kenya’s Medium Term Plan 2013-17 of the Vision 2030.

Under the MTP II, the country is seeking to modernise agriculture, and promote improved household welfare and increased income levels.

It is also in line with the lender’s ten-year strategy on infrastructure development, value addition and capacity building.

At least 104,000 households are expected to benefit from the funds, with the majority being women at 58 per cent.

The money is expected to fund up to 3,767 hectares under irrigation within 12 schemes that are under management, the development lender said.

Part of the funds will be used to reduce post-harvest losses by up to half from 40 per cent to 20 per cent, thereby increasing agricultural output available for consumption and market, according to AfDB.

It will also be spent on on enterprise development training, training on nutrition practices, gender sensitisation and seed multiplication.

Other ventures to be funded under the facility include bee keeping, poultry keeping and growing of marketable commodities.

Small-scale farmers will use funds from the project to increase yields of crops such as green maize, French beans, onions, tomatoes and water melons, livestock products from poultry, sheep, goats and cattle for sale and household consumption.