|Farmers listening keenly to statements that suggest saving with microfinance institutions will help them access loans easily (Photo Credit: Mamadou Edrisa NJie)|
The United Nations agency, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, is linking beneficiaries (farmers) of four projects in The Gambia that it is funding, to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in their respective regions.
The Rome-based anti-poverty agency’s Country Programme Approach (CPA) currently supports projects in Gambia that include the Rural Finance Project (RFP), Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP)/National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema), and Livestock and Horticulture Development Project (LHDP).
Done in collaboration with the Micro-Finance Department Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) and Global Youth Innovation Network Gambia chapter (GYIN Gambia), the linking of farmers to microfinance bodies is meant to help them have access to savings and loans.
Farmers in rural Gambia have little or no access to conventional banking. Officials are now meeting with beneficiaries of LHDP, PIWAMP/Nema and RFP to discuss opening accounts with MFIs like the national association of co-operative credit unions of the Gambia (NACCUG), Gambia women finance association (GAWFA), and Reliance Financial Services.
It is intended to ensure sustainability and to address possible funding gaps, according to officials.
Kebba L. Jarju of the CBG’s Microfinance Department said linking farmer beneficiaries to MFIs for sustainability is very important when he spoke to farmers in West Coast, Lower River, North Bank, Central River, and Upper River regions.
It’s very important for the farmers to open account with the MFIs as they (farmers) cannot have access to conventional banks in the form of savings or loans, but with the VISACA’s, NACCUG, GAWFA and Reliance Financial Services it will be easy for them to do savings and have access to loans, Jarju said.
“I encourage all farmers across the country to be saving with the financial institutions in their local communities,” he said, citing that the Central Bank always encourages Gambian farmers to deal with registered financial institutions.
The CBG supervises all registered financial institutions and Jarju said the microfinance intuitions have sound financial systems. These institutions are based in local communities to serve low income earners, he added.
Therefore, he encourages farmers to make best use of the MFIs be it individual, groups or villagers. Saving with the MFI will help them to access loans easily than in other [conventional) banks, said Jarju, giving the thumbs-up to IFAD.
He said for the projects to come together to have one team that is linking its beneficiaries to the MFIs is a move in the right direction which CBG management welcomes wholeheartedly.
IFAD-funded projects RFP, PIWAMP and LDHP are on their final phase-out stages, and the Nema project is been designed to build on the achievements and experiences of earlier IFAD-supported projects in the agricultural sector.
Written by Modou S. Joof