Solidaridad increases smallholder farmers’ access to finance with VSLA

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Participants at the workshop

IN a bid to enable smallholder farmers in Nigeria have access to finance, Solidaridad has initiated Village Savings and Loan Association, VSLA, to assist beneficiaries under its programmes. The scheme is a contributory and loan initiative among farmer groups in communities where Solidaridad is implementing its programmes in Nigeria.

In a statement made available to Realnews, Solidaridad said presently, over 20,000 smallholder oil palm farmers had been digitally profiled to benefit from the National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders, NISCOPS. It stated that another 4000 farmers have been reached under its Sustainable Development Goal Project 1, SDGP1.

Both projects are supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Solidaridad said it would deplore VSLA as a tool that would enhance the financial empowerment of smallholder farmers under its programmes. To ensure the effective implementation of the scheme, Solidaridad recently organized a week-long Training of Trainers, TOT, workshop in Ikom, Cross Rivers State.

The workshop, among others, equipped the participants with knowledge and skills on VSLA methodological principles, best practices, and operational procedures. The participants will further step-down the training to communities under Solidaridad programmes in Nigeria.

The participants are from Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Kogi, Kaduna and Kano states. These are the states where the projects are being implemented and where Solidaridad has facilitated the formation of over 200 farmer groups in different project communities.

Gabriel Ufono, director, agricultural services, who represented Okon Owuna, commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Cross River State, commended Solidaridad for the VSLA initiatives, which will create access to finance for smallholder farmers, especially in the rural areas of Nigeria where access to finance is almost impossible.

“This is an initiative that will turnaround the agricultural sector in the country. It will solve some of the challenges in the sector faced by smallholders, which is access to finance for investment. With this, Solidaridad has shown the commitment to improve income and the livelihood of smallholder farmers. This will support the effort of the Government of Cross River State in building an agriculture-based economy,” he said.

In his remarks, Samuel S. Ogallah, senior climate specialist for Africa and Country Technical Lead for Nigeria, Solidaridad, stated that the VSLA is one out of the many initiatives of Solidaridad in empowering smallholder farmers. He added that Solidaridad through its creativity and innovation has taken the conventional VSLA practices to the next level, which is dubbed Solidaridad VSLA Plus (VSLA+).

“This provides an opportunity for inclusivity, innovation, and impacts among project beneficiaries to create that change that matters. With NISCOPS and SDGP1, Solidaridad is increasing the productivity of oil palm, and transforming the fruits and vegetable sector in Nigeria particularly in the project implementing states through best management practices, climate-smart agriculture, and sustainable land-use. The projects are improving income and livelihood of smallholder farmers in the project implementing states while enhancing national food security and job creation at large,” Ogallah said.

– Oct. 12, 2020 @ 17:59 GMT |

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