In an interview Moulaye Traore, RASA head of program and economic expert, and Esther Ouedraogo, RASA head of microcredit, conduct an assessment of the training they organized on Microcredit and Management of Trade for the groups of men and women farmers beneficiaries of the project.
1) What were the topics covered during the training and why?
Within the project RASA BF there is a component of rural microfinance to support agricultural production. Training session on Microcredit and Business management precedes the provision of microcredit and ensures its proper management by groups of farmers beneficiaries. The modules covered allow producers to acquire the technical expertise to effectively organize the stage of production and sale. They proposed, in a simple and participatory way, the key issues of what, in economic jargon, is called mixed marketing: product choice, quality, pricing, place and manner of sale, promotion and customer relations, exploitation of competition, use of new ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). Since ours microcredit is a collective one, gived to the group as a whole, we particularly insisted on the importance of organization and group solidarity, and on the strength that the group may have with respect to the individual in the sale of products and the pricing, ensuring the viability of the activity.
2) What are the main problems expressed by farmers?
Lack of education is one of the biggest problems they face, particularly women, especially in making the calculations: they did not know how to calculate the unit cost of their product and how to add the profit margin. Now they know that they have to calculate the expected benefit before harvest and they have the tools to do it. Another major difficulty is related to the sale and disposal of products.
3) How do you rate the level of participation, both in numbers and commitment?
The participation was very high, more than what we expected and we had anticipated. For the four sites of Lao, Komsilga, Tanvi and Samandin we had a participation of 273 people in total. The level of groups mobilization and interaction of the participants could not have been better: this because they found the training useful and responsive to their needs. Many have observed, at the end of the day, that training has opened their eyes and allowed them to understand the benefits of collective work, that were not always clear, and that will help to strengthen the bond within the group.
4) What are the aspects on which, with more time and resources, we should reflect more in detail?
A delicate and important aspect, as farmers themselves have pointed out, is the organization of collective work: although they are set up in groups, in some cases since many years, actually they have not the tools and skills needed to plan and manage an economic activity collectively.
Another point to which we should dedicate special training: the use of ICT.