World Renew and its partner in this area, Diocese de Niassa, are setting up Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) with the aim of improving access to financing and helping farmers in periods of waiting after planting and of uncertainty about harvest outcomes.
The food security and livelihood program introduced savings and credit strategies to enable farmers to have access to capital for improving their farming activities. Farmers joined as individuals and as groups, gaining access to credit facilities that will allow them to diversify their entrepreneurial activities. Further, farmers are becoming resilient and more able to withstand drops in crop prices during harvest time and to raise higher profits for their produce.
The following story is from a farmer, Estela Jaime. Born in 1967 in Chissaua, Estela has five children and 12 grandchildren and is now living in Nabuzi community, Mecanhelas District (Niassa Province). Estela Jaime has been a farmer for 32 years, lives on her own, and has three fields to farm.
“Some years back I used to have good harvests in my fields, but when the soil became weaker with no nutrients, the yield started dropping to a point where I barely harvested anything. And for almost 29 years things got even worse.
“Since I depend solely on farming, my financial situation was not stable. In 2015 the field extension officers came to my community with various ideas and activities, and I was one of the people who participated in the meetings. After the meetings the community members chose me to be a leading farmer. In the beginning I thought that what we learned would not work, but as the crops grew, we saw that the new techniques were making a difference.
“With traditional techniques, the crops grow slowly due to lack of rain, but I am enthusiastic about the new farming techniques in that crops are growing well despite a scarcity of rain. I hope to have a good harvest at the end of this agricultural season.
“I was also trained in how to manage my finances through a Village Savings and Loan (VSLA), and with the help of loans I was able to start a small bakery business to improve my family income. I am now able to buy school materials and feed my children; I also bought farming inputs to be used in the Conservation Agriculture techniques, so as to increase my yield and fight against soil degradation.
“I am glad to be part of the programs (Conservation Agriculture and VSLA-Savings), and I look forward to teaching my children and my neighbors. I also pray that more people in this community and other communities adopt these techniques and practices.”
The increase of savings and credit obtained through the VSLAs has improved agricultural investments and income from small businesses. As rural farmers continue to cope with the growing challenges caused by climate change, VSLAs are a valuable tool to help them meet today’s needs while preparing for an increasingly uncertain future.