Improving access to credit is essential to allow farmers to invest and grow. The Grameen Foundation is one of the leader in the field of microfinance and its loans are changing women’s lives.
For example, in India, Ellevva and her husband, Durgiah, live in a small, one room house made of mud and sticks. Before taking a loan from SHARE, both worked as day laborers for meager wages (usually 20 rs per day for a woman and 40 rs per day for a man) and struggled to make ends meet.
With her first loan, Ellevva purchased a buffalo that recently gave birth to a calf. It will now produce milk that Ellevva can sell in the market. With a second “special” loan of 3000 rs, she purchased two goats and some vegetables. When she purchases vegetables, Ellevva sells some and grinds the pulses and dals into flour. Already thinking ahead to her next loan, Ellevva wants to purchase another buffalo.
The March 2009 policy brief from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) discusses several key areas where increased knowledge and innovation can help progress the world’s level of agricultural development.
Like the Farming First plan, IFPRI’s recommendations include a farmer-centric approach with scaled-up investments and proactive policy changes for research, training, and institutional reform for the sector.
The report notes:
the rural poor draw on indigenous knowledge and innovate through local experimentation and adaptation…. Emerging issues such as high food prices, climate change, and demands for biofuels require complementary knowledge from formal agricultural research and development (R&D) and support from policies and other institutions.
The report continues:
Formal and informal knowledge and innovation must therefore be linked to accelerate sustainable agricultural development.
Sharing and scaling up local knowledge helps maximize agriculture’s potential to improve livelihoods. For instance, researching drought and flood resistant crops can help those regions already being affected by climate change. Equally, scaling up successful training and microcredit programmes improves small-scale farmers’ capacity to feed themselves and the rest of the world’s population.