From Samuel Hinneh, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, Courtesy: B4FA Media Fellowship
A new partnership between MasterCard Foundation and Once Acre Fund seeks to expand smallholder farmers access to financial services and training to increase income level of farmers and eventually grow the microfinance sector in Africa.
Through the project farming techniques among 181,000 smallholder farmers will be improved and ultimately double the profits on every planted acre. The project will run in three African countries of Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.
The Chief Executive Officer of One Acre Fund, Andrew Youn, says the need for farm microfinance is vast.
“We believe there are as many as 50 million extremely poor African households in high-density, agricultural areas across sub Saharan Africa that could benefit from finance,’’ Youn explained, at the 2013 World Food Prize (October 16-19, 2013) in Iowa, USA.
Youn emphasised that “less than 10% of farmers have ready access to powerful development tool, which the partnership will help to shape the emerging rural, agricultural finance movement on a global scale’’.
The project hopes to increase capacity and strengthen systems to serve a greater number of rural smallholder farmers, and employ over 770 additional people as One Acre Fund field staff. Through One Acre Fund partnership with MasterCard Foundation, 450,000 smallholder farmers will directly benefit from activities of the organisation.
One Acre Fund, founded in 2006 equips Africa’s poorest farm families to grow more food for consumption and for sales in local markets. The model of the organisation provides farmers with comprehensive market bundle of services such as high yielding seed and improved fertiliser for staple crop production, financing through in-kind loans, on farm weekly trainings, as well as post-harvest assistance through improved storage and market facilitation.
The president of the MasterCard Foundation, Reeta Roy says agriculture and agri-business hold tremendous potential to assist smallholder farmers in Africa improve on living standards.
“Together with One Acre Fund, we will share valuable lessons about supporting the agriculture sector through financial inclusion, together with the broader impact on the well-being of poor households,’’ he said.
Through collaboration with partner organisations in 46 countries, MasterCard Foundation creates opportunities for all people to learn and prosper through programmes including promotion of financial inclusion and advancement of youth learning, particularly in Africa.