30 Mar 2012
Opportunity International

A 2012 report introducing Opportunity International's model for financing smallholder farmers:

Across Africa, a lack of access to finance for farmers limits the continent’s ability to take advantage of its abundant natural resources for food production. Smallholder farmers without collateral are unable to access the finance needed to purchase improved seeds, fertilizers and chemicals to optimize productivity.

Past efforts to finance agriculture in Africa have generally failed due to inappropriate lending policies, a disregard for external and internal market influences, a lack of understanding of farmers’ household pressures and a lack of coordination among key stakeholders. Sustainably financing agriculture in Africa requires comprehensive interventions that bring together various actors across value chains in order to meet the needs of different farmers.

In 2005, Opportunity International, in conjunction with the World Bank, launched an agricultural finance pilot in Malawi. Today they provide a range of financial services to smallholder farmers in Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda as well. Their strategy involves a comprehensive analysis with four key components:

  1. An assessment of the farmer’s commercial potential based on the land size and household profile;
  2. Partnerships and engagements to support players in the value chain including suppliers, NGOs, smallholder farmers, warehousing...