Rural Expansion Program: You helped us bank on Africa’s farmers
Approximately 70% of Africans work in agriculture and these households are some of the poorest in the world. Opportunity found that farmers in Africa are producing at only 40% of their potential because they cannot access the needed best-practice information, financing and markets. With your help we work with small-scale farmers in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda to adopt more productive agriculture practices, link up with buyers and extension service providers, and access inputs to grow more food.
Opportunity spent 2010 and 2011 working with small-scale farmers and learning from them which financial tools and services they need to succeed. In 2012, Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance team aims to bring services closer to clients using mobile phone banking. This gives clients access to their funds from their own rural village, and uses GPS to capture household data and map out farm plots that show how to get the best return from their land.
The Agriculture Finance program has grown tremendously from its start with Malawian groundnut and tobacco farmers nearly five years ago.
- In 2011 Opportunity grew the number of agriculture loans by nearly 50% to 11,615 farmers.
- Crops funded now include: Malawi: maize, sugarcane, cotton, tobacco. Ghana: cocoa, chili, plantain, citrus, onion. Mozambique: sugar, soya bean, sesame, cabbage, maize, groundnut, pigeon pea, cashews, chili, poultry, goats. Uganda: coffee, sugarcane, cotton. Rwanda: potato, rice, maize, cassava.
- Savings are very important for farming families who must make their harvest income last all year. At year-end, 461,444 rural families had an Opportunity savings account, up 34% from 2010.
A message from John Magnay, Opportunity’s resident agriculture specialist
“With 70% of Africans directly involved in agriculture, if you do not target them you will miss some of the very poorest people in the world. With your help we are optimizing the utilization of microfinance by helping farmers adopt good agriculture practices, links to buyers and extension service providers and access to input to help them achieve optimum output. The close of 2011 marked the end of the pilot phase of Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance initiative. Having refined the model and accumulated a wealth of knowledge during the pilot phase we are eager to kick off a period of high impact and growth. We have grand expectations for achieving scalability in 2012 and beyond. In the next phase we hope to bring services closer to clients using the mobile phone to give clients access to their funds from their own rural village, and using GPS to capture household data and to locate farms. These will be piloted in 2012-13. Best Regards, John”