India has pledged a substantial $250 million (Sh36 billion) loan to Kenya, a significant portion of which will be allocated towards enhancing mechanization in small-scale farming operations, according to the High Commissioner of India.

This commitment, made during President William Ruto's visit to India in December, aims to address the pressing need for modernization in Kenya's agricultural sector.

The agricultural landscape in Kenya is predominantly comprised of smallholder farmers, who constitute 80 per cent of the nation's agricultural output.

Despite strides in the adoption of machinery such as tractors, planters, and irrigation systems, the country still falls short of realizing its full farming potential, achieving only 25 per cent of expected yields.

Speaking on the collaboration between the two nations, Namgya Khampa, the Indian High Commissioner, emphasized the focus on expanding agricultural cooperation and assistance.

"Both governments have agreed to further expand agriculture cooperation and assistance specifically we are looking at extending the concessional line of credit to Kenyan government and stakeholders equivalent to $250 million to meet the priorities of agricultural mechanisation in the area identified by the government of Kenya," he stated.

The partnership also extends to the private sector, with Mahindra Tractors and Simba Colt Aspire Ltd joining forces to bolster farming mechanization efforts.

This collaboration aims to provide a comprehensive range of tractors to farmers across Kenya, aligning with the country's Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS).

Juma Mukwana, the Industry Principal Secretary, underscored the government's commitment to reducing food imports by increasing local production through mechanization. "We are importing a lot of food; we need to increase our production through mechanisation," he affirmed.

Additionally, plans are underway to establish country industrialization and aggregation parks, with a significant investment of Sh10 billion.

Mukwana highlighted the mapping of different regions and the specific products they will focus on, such as sunflower in Busia and avocado in Bungoma.

Echoing the sentiments, Simba Corporation CEO, Dinesh Kotecha, stressed the economic benefits of incentivizing mechanization for farmers, including job creation and enhanced value chains.

He urged the government to consider measures such as zero-rating the 16 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on farm implements to further support agricultural development.

Through this collaborative effort, Mahindra tractors will be made accessible through Simba Colt Aspire Ltd branches across key regions in Kenya, signalling a concerted push towards agricultural modernization and increased productivity in the sector.