Enhancing farmers knowledge & skills in accessing savings & credit services
‘People remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they see and 50% of what they do’.
The famous saying was what inspired the recently concluded mentorships for smallholder farmers and extension workers in agriculture. The mentorship focused on enhancing skills of farmers in successfully accessing saving and credit services. This mentorship included discussions, exposure visits, hand on practices and lectures on financial literacy, credit management among smallholder farmers, village saving and credit group formation, resource mobilization, record management, governance of saving and credit group and risk management. This was conducted from the 14th -24th May, 2014 targeting so many 6 farmers and 4 marketing officer from PELUM member organizations. Farmer of the mentorship were motivated to encourage fellow farmers to open up bank accounts for saving funds, legalize status of their groups in order to access resource provided by government programs, practice collective marketing, access credit and invest it productively and confidence in saving as farmer groups was restored. Member Organization staff gained skills in facilitating farmers’ access to saving and credit services.Abiku Moses a former victim of the Kony insurgency in northern Uganda was one of the beneficiaries of the mentorship. He represented Aila women farmer group (6 men and 14 women) from Amuria district in partnership with Voluntary Action for Development (VAD). He says that following the insurgency, they had no capacity to solve their own problems especially in agriculture that include; lots of diseases, no food, no education and communities were demoralized. They however were blessed with enough and fertile land on which they had no idea of how to cultivate since they were uncertain of their security at the time.
Moses contentedly expressed that he benefited from the mentorship exercise. He plans to go and spread the gospel of forming cooperatives in saving and credit among and beyond his group members. To support improvement of access to financial services, Moses plans to encourage bulking as a cooperative, enterprise selection, acquire more training in sustainable farming, advocate for financial services support at local level services. He emphasized that through cooperatives they will be able to do group market research, bulk, and access financial support, expand on agriculture and access better markets. His group members were very eager to know what he was learning judging from the phone calls they kept making to him inquiring on the progress made.
He was surprised that farmers from Nankoma cooperative used utilized their savings to get credit services. Farmers were able to buy in puts, increase their production and had improved on their livelihoods in terms of shelter, income, supported their children to access education. This immensely motivated Moses that he promised to go and use similar tactics to access better financial services which would eventually translate into improvement of livelihoods for both him and his group members.
He calls upon development agencies like Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), government organizations like NAADS to provide services like the mentorship him and his farmer group members were privileged to attend, Thanks to PELUM Uganda!