Solidaridad Creates Access to Finance for Smallholder Farmers

Solidaridad has started a new contributory and loan scheme to give smallholder farmers in Nigeria access to finance. It is called the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).

VSLA will be deployed as a tool to enhance the financial empowerment of smallholder farmers under its programs.

Solidaridad has already digitally profiled more than 20,000 smallholder oil palm farmers to benefit from the National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS).

In addition, about 4000 has been reached under its Sustainable Development Goal Project 1 (SDGP1). Both projects are supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In a bid to ensure effective implementation of VSLA, Solidaridad recently organized a week-long Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop in Ikom, Cross Rivers State, Nigeria.

The workshop trained participants on VSLA methodological principles, best practices, and operational procedures. Participants came from Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Kogi, Kaduna, and Kano states.

These are the states where the projects are being implemented. They are also where Solidaridad has facilitated the formation of over 200 farmer groups in different project communities.

“This is an initiative that will turnaround the agricultural sector in Nigeria,” said Gabriel Ufono, director, Cross Rivers Agricultural Services.

According to him, the scheme will solve some of the challenges faced by smallholders in the sector. That is access to finance for investment.

In his remarks, Dr. Samuel S. Ogallah, Solidaridad’s Senior Climate Specialist for Africa and Country Technical Lead for Nigeria, said that “the VSLA(+) is one out of the many initiatives of Solidaridad in empowering smallholder farmers.”

He noted that through its creativity and innovation, Solidaridad has taken the conventional VSLA practices to the next level. This is dubbed Solidaridad VSLA Plus (VSLA+).

This provides an opportunity for inclusivity, innovation, and impacts among project beneficiaries to create that change that matters, Dr. Ogallah said.

With NISCOPS and SDGP1, Solidaridad is said to have increased the productivity of oil palm. It is also 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.

Solidaridad works on creating sustainable supply chains from the producer to the consumer. This enables producers in developing countries to get a better price for better products while preserving people’s environment.