For Wilson Kirwa Oraam, owning a 32-acre piece of land was never a possibility three years ago. He was a subsistence farmer, planting maize for the consumption of his family on his one acre piece of land. During a good farming season, his land would yield between nine and 12 bags of maize.
Then, he sold a few bags to meet his family’s other basic needs. Nevertheless, many a times he would not be able to put his one acre piece of land under cultivation because he did not have money to buy seeds and fertiliser. His children too, would often be out of school for lack of school fees.
However, thanks to the Innovative Finance partnership between the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Equity Bank, his dream of becoming a large-scale maize farmer has become a reality. Furthermore, he is assured that in three years’ time, he will own his dream 50 acres of land.
He has rented the 30 acres under cultivation, but he hopes to buy the land by 2017. Oraam has been with the Schemers Farmers Group of Eldoret. The success story farmer group that scooped four prizes in AGRA’s Farmer of the Year Awards (AFOYA) held in Accra, Ghana in 2013.
“I started off farming with five acres of land 10 years ago, but in the last three years, with support from the partnership between AGRA and Equity (Innovative Finance), I have progressively upgraded to 32 acres,” says Oraam, secretary to the Schemers Farmers group.
Oraam says he started off with a loan of Sh12,000, which he repaid before the stipulated time and upgraded to Sh24,000. He repaid it within the time frame and advanced to the next level of Sh48,000. Now, he can borrow up to Sh300,000.
“Through the loan, I have 32 acres of land that I have put under maize farming,” says Oraam, adding that he has maximised production through agro farming techniques. From this project, he harvests 800 bags of maize that brings him a turnover of Sh1.6 million per season (four months).
In a span of three years, the father of four says he has transformed his family’s lifestyle tremendously through farming. “All my children aged between five and 11 years are in academies where I pay fees amounting close to Sh100,000 per term,” says the 36-year-old farmer.
He has also invested in various projects. He owns a tailoring shop with a net income of Sh16,000 per month, runs a posho mill and has constructed a permanent house for his family. All these achievements, he says, have been possible through the Innovative Finance venture that has given him access to credit, which he uses wisely to advance his farming activities.
His focus is now to increase use of agro technology that he has learnt through attending training forums and research so that his farm can yield 30 bags of maize per acre, from the present 25 bags per acre. “This is a possibility. I have already done extensive research on this and know that it is achievable especially if I use seeds from Pana Seeds whose target is between 30-36 bags per acre,” says Oraam.
He knows that with determination and support such as the one he gets from partnerships such as the innovative finance venture between AGRA and Equity Bank, everything is possible. “I have found out that with capital, farming is a lucrative commercial venture,” notes the farmer.
Oraam has since diversified to other farming activities, which include zero grazing (four dairy grade cows) and poultry farming. His dream is to own a palatial home, mechanise his farm and buy a plot to build rental units in Eldoret, topping it all with owning a 200-acre farmland.