The initiative is expected to make available ready-credit to farmers without any collateral requirements. The VSLA programme will also provide insurance, technical support, extension services, health education and basic training in business operations for rice-farmers to enable them take a leap toward escaping poverty.

women-rice-farmers1The Project Manager of Hopeline Institute, Ebow Graham, said the programme has a life-span of five years, and within the period would mobilise 3,500 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 a pilot basis and was able to mobilise and train 10 groups, comprising 300 members from seven communities. 40 more groups have since being mobilised at different stages of the VSLA training in 21 communities on the rice value chain, including input dealers, farmers, millers, power-tiller operators as well as marketers, making 1,200 total membership.

The Executive Director of Hopeline, Mrs. Esi Atta-Peters, said the project is gender-sensitive, with 70 percent women actors in the value chain.

“One of the key innovations brought by the project is the total value chain linkages and 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 programmes have been adopted to help transform the farmers from peasant to commercial farmers, with training in leadership, business management, book-keeping, saving 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 practice and challenges, and also provide technical and extension support from experts during and after the planting season.

Doug Seebeck, President of Partners Worldwide and affiliate of Hopeline, based in the United States of America, commended the initiative and was upbeat it will help the farmers to increase both yield and income.

Source : B&FT

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