Creative Financing to Make Small-Scale Farming Technologies Affordable for the Rural Poor

KickStart International | Kenya
$553,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Agriculture & Food Security

The problem: Access to small-scale farming technologies

Small-scale farming is the principal source of livelihood for many in Kenya. Agriculture provides 71 percent of employment and accounts for over 25 percent of Kenya‘s GDP. One of the best ways to increase the incomes and food security of these small-scale farmers is for them to irrigate their land. Appropriate irrigation technologies enable farmers to grow multiple cycles of high-value crops throughout the year, generate higher yields, and most importantly, harvest and sell their crops in the dry season when prices are higher. Irrigated crops in the off-season sell for as much as 10 times more per kilogram than rain-fed crops.

KickStart International’s shallow water irrigation pumps, for example, can increase annual net-farm incomes by an average of $700 per year. KickStart estimates that around 800,000 rural farming families (or around 4 million people) in Kenya could benefit from using these pumps. Despite the relatively low cost of KickStart’s pumps, however, they are still beyond the reach of many poor farmers who often have irregular incomes and find it difficult to pay the large up-front cost of the pump.

The solution: Creative financing options to expand technology access for small-scale farmers

KickStart International
Esther Havens

To meet this need, KickStart has developed two financing plans to increase access to these products and help break down critical financial barriers. The first is called “Mobile Layaway,” which enables a poor farmer to easily save to purchase a pump by making small, incremental payments through a mobile phone. The second service, “Rent-to-Own,” enables farmers to receive a pump after an initial down payment, put the pump to use immediately and make regular rental payments toward pump ownership. This approach allows the farmers to use the extra income generated through increased crop yields to pay down the cost of the pump. KickStart plans to conduct a large-scale randomized trial in Kenya to determine the effectiveness of these two financing programs in increasing irrigation pump usage.

The potential: Cost-effectiveness, impact and implications

KickStart’s irrigation and financing systems give a poorer segment of farmers access to the same tools as their wealthier counterparts. Access to these tools promotes greater productivity in the form of higher crop yields per harvest, higher earnings and more secure livelihoods. Additionally, this work will demonstrate whether these mechanisms can help facilitate the purchase of farming equipment of any kind for the rural poor in Africa.

Watch a video about KickStart ‘s work with DIV.

Last updated: May 27, 2016

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