Hopeline Institute, a non-governmental organisation, has provided financial enablement to rice farmers in Asutuare in the Shai Osu-Doku District of the Greater Accra Region, by mobilising them into savings and loans associations dubbed Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA).
The initiative is expected to make available ready credit to farmers without any collateral requirement.
The VSLA programme will also provide insurance, technical support, extension services, health education and basic training in business operation to rice farmers to enable them take a leap towards escaping poverty.
The Project Manager of Hopeline Institute, Ebow Graham said the programme had a lifespan of five years, and within the period would mobilise 3500 farmers in 15 communities.
“The farmers were mobilised on a value chain to give them technical, basic business management training and access to credit as well as market assurance,” he added.
The project started two years ago on pilot basis and was able to mobilise and train 10 groups comprising 300 members from seven communities.
Forty more groups have since been mobilised at different stages of the VSLA training in 21 communities on the rice value chain, including input dealers, farmers, millers, power tiler operators, as well as marketers making 1200 in membership.
The Executive Director of Hopeline, Atta Peters said the project was gender sensitive with 70 per cent women actors on the value chain.
“One of the key innovations brought on the project is the total value chain linkages and the value it will add to rice waste (rice husk) to be processed into feed for livestock. This will create jobs and improve the livelihood of farmers,” Mr. Peters said.
“The programme is very comprehensive. Small and medium scale training programme has been adopted to help transform the farmers from peasant to commercial farmers with training in leadership, business management, book keeping, savings procedures, financial literacy and marketing,” he added.
Farming forms the main source of livelihood in most rural communities in the country, and despite the importance of agriculture to the national economy, many rural farmers still live in extreme poverty because of lack of access to credit to expand.
The VSLA platform will also be used to network, share best practices, challenges and also receive technical and extension support from experts during and after the planting season.
Doug Seebeck, President of Hopeline Institute Worldwide based in the United States of America, commended the initiative and was upbeat it will help the farmers to increase both yield and income.
By Times Reporter