Meet the Farmer: Rose, a Determined Smallholder Farmer
In Rwanda, landholdings are small, over 60% of households are doing farming activities on less than 0,7 hectare ( ha.), 50% on less than 0,5 ha., and over 25% on less than 0,2 ha. Rose, a 41-year-old mother of five children, falls in the last category. She grows rice on a 0,2 ha. land size in Muhanga, in the Southern region of the country, and is considered a smallholder farmer.
Rose has been growing rice since 2008, her rice production has been below 700 kg for 0,2 ha. for all those years. Last year, Rose decided that she could do better and produce a bigger quantity, she just needed cash to invest into buying better inputs. She decided to join CLECLAM Ejoheza microfinance, one of the Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in her region. This MFI is also one of the partner MFIs of the STARS program (Strengthening African Rural Smallholders).
Access to finance
With the support of STARS, CLECAM developed specific agricultural financial products suitable for smallholders. Rose was able to get a loan under the rice value chain financial product. She got 150 000 FRw (169 dollars) to payback at the end of the rice season. She invested in buying inputs: better seeds and fertilisers and applied them as recommended by agronomists.
Thanks to the investment, her production increased to 1.2 tone. The total sell reached 420 000 FRw (411 dollars). She got enough money to payback her loan, pay school fees for her children (two of them are in secondary school and three in primary school), and secure food for the family.
Rose is proud of her farming “Look at my plot how well maintained, I am so happy that I produced more rice, I am determined to continue improving, increase my production and increase my income” said Rose with a big smile. “I am satisfied of the services, I received from Clecam MFI, they treated me with respect and I will continue to use their services.” indicates Rose.
She hopes to have her family’s home repaired and access water near her house at the end of the next season.
However, climate change is still a big issue as farmers can no longer rely on the weather. She hopes that the MFI could provide irrigation equipment.
In Rwanda, STARS is targeting 44,000 smallholder farmers by facilitating their access to financial services and markets, as well as agriculture services in both structures and unstructured value chains.
Story by Patrick Birasa, Program lead and Microfinance Advisor for the STARS program in Rwanda