Funding farm services
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CTA. 2008. Funding farm services. Rural Radio Resource Pack 08/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57165
How the Savannah Farmers? Cooperative is offering microfinance in the form of farm inputs and services.
Funding farm services Cue: Setting up a successful business can be tricky at the best of times. But in Sudan it is especially difficult. In southern Sudan, many people have now returned to their villages from refugee camps, where they have survived on food aid. But now, back home, many are returning to a very basic subsistence farming which produces no extra income and little security in the face of crop failure. One group which is trying to help in these challenging situations is the Savannah Farmers? Cooperative. The organisation offers training in improved farming methods and has also started an unusual microfinance programme for its farmer members. Managing Director, Zamba Duku, explained more to Pius Sawa. IN: ?The organisation, Savannah Farmers? Cooperative ? OUT: ? think women are adequately covered.? DUR?N: 4?15? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Zamba Duku, Managing Director of the Savannah Farmers? Cooperative in southern Sudan. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Duku The organisation, Savannah Farmers? Cooperative began in 2001. It started as a kind of charitable organisation to support farmers, but to support farmers not by giving relief or anything free, but by making available tractors to farmers, so that these farmers can use them at a very subsidised cost. It is only in the second season of last year that we began to look at giving the farmers services, and then they pay later, and that is where the microfinance component came in. Sawa Maybe you can describe this microfinance component; how does it help farmers? Duku It helps farmers a lot in that a farmer gets his land ploughed very quickly using the tractor. The farmer is given seeds which he or she may not have and the farmer is also given further assistance in weeding, if he or she cannot manage. But we don?t give the money to the farmer, we ask the farmer to get somebody to clean the land, and then we come and pay. Sawa And how many farmers are you dealing with? Duku On a pilot basis we have now 320 farmers. Sawa This sounds like a unique programme. Duku It?s unique in the sense that we do not give direct cash to the clients, we give them services which are valued, and then they will pay for the services at the end of harvest, after they have sold their crop. In most microfinance programmes, the beneficiary or the client is given actual cash, and also the client is expected to belong to a small group so that that group can act as a kind of collateral. But in our case here we take each farmer on his or her own merit. Sawa And what types of crops are they growing? Duku We signed an agreement with a certain Indian company to grow some Indian crop, and this is green gram, and that is what we are supporting them to grow. Sawa Apart from green gram how do they produce food for survival? Duku Actually we require that each farmer who is our beneficiary has two acres set aside for this crop, and then that farmer can grow any other number of acres for his other crops. Food production is not interrupted. Sawa And I?m trying to look at how a farmer can be able to recover this loan, in what period and how do you recover it? Duku Actually we expect to recover the money spent in one season at the end of that season. Sawa Are you partnering with any microfinance institution? Duku Not as such but we are actually being treated as a kind of unique microfinance institution by the World Bank, which is interested in our model and has given us some money. Sawa How much money have you got so far? Duku They have given us US$100,000, with the promise that if we manage this one successfully, they will give us even up to $400,000 in the coming year. Sawa How does the World Bank have the guarantee that they will not lose their money? Duku There is no guarantee as such. We only hope that the weather will be good and that the crop will not fail. This is the major thing. But they insist that if there are any losses then we will share the cost, the losses, with them. Sawa What about the farmers, do they have any risks of them incurring when they don?t recover the loans? Duku Absolutely not. If the farmers have failed because of climatic conditions, there is no way that we can penalise them. Sawa How are you trying to successfully engage them into farming through this microfinance institution? Duku What we are trying to do is entice them with the prospect of earning money for themselves, because this is a major thing for them, a major concern is how do you get money. Sawa And we see that women have been having a problem of acquiring microfinance credits or loans. So how are you managing to bring women on board, because most of them don?t own land? Duku Actually ours is not for women or for men as such, because we are targeting family units, and every family unit will include women and men, so our support goes to families rather than to individuals as such, and in that way I think women are adequately covered. End of track