© Meezy Photography
Opportunity International unleashes the power of entrepreneurs in some of the world’s poorest countries. Through innovative partnerships, our programs enable people to expand their businesses, feed their families, create jobs and change their communities. Every minute an Opportunity client accesses the financial tools, training and support to escape poverty and gain the opportunity to live a life with dignity and purpose.
Agriculture employs around 75 per cent of the African workforce, but the sector remains reliant on subsistence and rain-fed agriculture. Only a fraction of suitable land is currently cultivated, and climate change poses a threat to future growth and development. One out of every two people on this planet struggles to feed and educate their children. When empowered by an opportunity, they have a chance to work their way out of poverty and transform their lives.
Opportunity International focuses on improving agriculture in Africa because it is home to a quarter of the world’s arable land, yet it generates only 10 per cent of global agricultural output. The fact remains that a typical smallholder farming household lacks the necessary resources to transform their subsistence farm into a thriving agribusiness.
Our Agriculture program helps people feed their families and grow enough to make a profit. We do this through the following:
- Sustainable, climate-smart portfolios in strong value chains
- Leveraging technology to reduce cost and risk
- Establishing a network of farmer support agents across Africa
No Financial Access – Traditionally, farmers must borrow money from unregulated local lenders at high-interest rates to cover the costs of planting, harvesting and selling.
Low-Quality Resources – High-quality seeds and fertilizer are necessary to maximize crop yields but often are too expensive for farmers to afford.
Limited Agricultural Skills – Farmers regularly lack technical assistance and training in modern agricultural techniques that improve the quality and yield of crops.
Side-Selling – Seasonal cash flows mean farmers usually have to forfeit up to half their annual income by selling crops at an extreme discount before the harvest.
No Access to Markets – Farmers often must sell their crops to consolidators at a low price because they lack access to viable markets.
Access to Agricultural Loans – Working with partners to use high-
tech, low-cost banking solutions to deliver loans
to rural farming communities.
Access to Better Resources – Linking farmers to suppliers with high-quality seeds and fertilizers and negotiating competitive pricing for farmers.
Agricultural Training – Partnering with
agricultural experts to deliver crop-specific training and assistance in good farming practices.
Access to Savings Accounts – Enabling farmers to open savings accounts during harvest season to save profits for financial protection between harvests.
Access to Better Crop Markets – Linking farmers to the best crop buyers where they can take advantage of better market prices.
- Farmers are grouped into teams and each group elects their leadership. Prices are mutually agreed upon based on the cost of production for the season. Agreed-upon prices remain fixed, typically for a year. In this model, aggregators provide all inputs to shareholders on a credit basis to be repaid after the harvest.
- While issues in working with smallholder farmers still sometimes arise, the nucleus model discourages common problems like side-selling, diversion of inputs and under-declaration of produce. If one farmer is found engaging
in misconduct or in breach of agreements, the entire group is held accountable.
- The nucleus farmer selects his farmers on the basis of credibility and integrity because they must come from the community and must be residents in the community.
Joshua, pictured above, is a nucleus farmer who serves 3,000 rice farmers, of whom 90 per cent are women. Opportunity International’s Implementing Partner in Ghana, Sinapi Aba Savings & Loans, Inc., provides Joshua with a loan to purchase farm equipment and obtain working capital. In turn, Joshua assists smallholder farmers by loaning them quality inputs, clearing the land, providing training in good agricultural practices and helping the farmers get their products to market.
Joshua is a visionary who saw a need and offered a solution—and by doing so, has transformed communities across northern Ghana. He has earned a reputation for community development by aggregating smallholder rice farmers and is sought out by communities who ask him to come and help them improve their communities.
When entering a community, he presents his methodology to the women in the community, creating opportunities for local women to earn employment and gain experience.
Joshua asks the women if they are interested in rice farming. If they are, the women vouch for each other and form an “out-farmer” group. To date, Joshua has established 300 out-farmer groups. Joshua’s vision for the future is to involve women in the entire value chain. He wants to start a milling operation in Tamale and hire women to run the operation. The women farmers from the surrounding areas of Tamale would harvest the rice, which would then be taken to Tamale to be milled into flour by another group of women—thus providing employment for even more women and further driving gender equality.
The Multiplier Effect
1 Loan to Joshua provides capital for the purchase of Farm Equipment and Working Capital
= Employment for 15 Extension Service Providers (ESP) and 4 Supervisors
+ Transformed lives of 3,000 out-farmers, their children and communities
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Opportunity International’s Agriculture program supports the following SDGs:
About Opportunity International
Opportunity International Canada empowers families along their journeys out of extreme poverty toward new lives filled with strength, hope, resilience and the power to achieve their dreams.