President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the Treasury to hand back title deeds that farmers in Kajiado, Narok and Baringo counties had surrendered as collateral to the State’s agricultural credit institution.
This follows the waiver of a Sh1.5 billion loan owed to the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) by wheat, sorghum and livestock farmers.
In a statement on Monday, State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the waiver is part of the government’s move to ease financial pressure on farmers across the country.
“The President directed the Treasury, working with AFC, to ensure that farmers are handed back their title deeds to ease pressure on them and to allow them take other investment decisions,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta has over the last three months embarked on a waiver of loans owed to the AFC as part of his agenda to bolster agriculture.
Last month during a tour of Meru, Mr Kenyatta waived loans amounting Sh475 million for dairy farmers under the Meru Dairy Union. He has also waived Sh25 million AFC loans owed by Munyala Fishermen Cooperative Society and asked the Treasury to advance Mumias, Chemelil, and Nzoia sugar factories a total of Sh1.1 billion to pay farmers arrears.
The loan waivers come at a time when AFC is on the spot over claims that it is advancing loans to farmers against collateral suspected to be fraudulent.
In May, Auditor-General Edward Ouko said AFC advanced Sh22.7 million to 13 farmers in Kapsabet, Nandi County, using title deeds which appeared fraudulent.
In the circumstances, the recoverability of the amount (Sh22,661,100) is doubtful,” Mr Ouko says in a disclaimer opinion of AFC’s audited books of accounts for the year to June 2016.
A disclaimer audit opinion means that the auditor was unable to obtain sufficient, appropriate audit evidence to form an opinion on the accuracy of the financial statements.
AFC managing director Lucas Meso said the corporation has hired private investigators to pursue the 13 farmers who were advanced the money in 2004 and 2005 for sugar cane production in Kapsabet.