Politics and policy
AFC targets schools to boost food production
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 20:16
The Agricultural Finance Corporation will give boarding schools loans to fund food production.
The food crisis facing schools came to the fore last year with an escalation in prices that forced the institutions to charge parents about Sh6,000 more in fees per student.
AFC has introduced a scheme through which education institutions can use title deeds as security for loans that will go towards food production. The money will be repaid at an annual interest rate of 10 per cent.
“AFC is ready to finance all public schools to acquire loans for food production for students’ needs,” said AFC managing director Lucas Meso during the corporation’s Farmers Day in Aldai, Nandi District, over the weekend.
He urged school boards to apply for the loans through AFC offices countrywide.
Although a number of schools have enough land for growing food and cash-crops, the title deeds are held in trust for the public.
It is not clear how the documents will be accepted as collateral without subjecting the institutions to a tedious vetting process.
Many secondary schools produce food for their use, but the farms are financed through student fees, and in some cases the learners provide free labour.
Some school farms have also been a source of conflict between head teachers, parents, and students whenever proceeds have not been accounted for.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) national vice chairman Julius Korir said many secondary school heads had surrendered log books of school vehicles as security for food supplies after the Education ministry failed to release funds to schools on time.
The loan scheme was announced as head teachers called for agriculture to be taught in primary schools to help boost food production.
The Federation of Primary School Head Teachers from East Africa (Fepsha) general-secretary Davies Ntanga said the revival of school gardens would supplement school incomes.
“By having their own food, schools would not depend on government supplies which most of the times are faced with challenges,” said Mr Ntanga during the federation’s meeting held over the weekend at Sai Rock Hotel in Mombasa.
He said that learning farming techniques would inculcate in children skills they could use to sustain their livelihoods in future.
“We are endowed with so much fertile land but most of it is not being properly utilised.