Rural Financial Services and Marketing Programme
The overall goal of the programme is to help increase incomes and generate employment opportunities for poor rural communities by developing horticulture value chains, improving access to markets and stimulating investment in the rural economy nationwide. It also addresses weaknesses in the current horticulture value chain related to input supply, production, processing, marketing, and legislative issues.
The programme has national coverage but focuses particularly on areas with the highest concentrations of poor rural people. It targets three groups: those who are already oriented towards commercial agriculture; those who produce a surplus that is sold in local markets; and the poorest category, often comprised of people who are landless and whose main source of income is unskilled labour. The programme seeks to ensure that women and young people have equitable access to programme activities.
The programme has three components – value-chain development, rural financial services and marketing infrastructure. Specific activities focus on
- providing targeted rural financial services
- developing rural commercial infrastructure
- developing small-scale agriculture
- supporting the provision of sustainable business development services to farmers and microentrepreneurs
- ensuring local small-scale enterprises have the knowledge and technical expertise required to participate more profitably in national and international markets
- improving access to roads, drinking water and natural gas supplies in rural areas
Two main innovations of the programme are the establishment of working groups that bring together all stakeholders in the horticulture value chain, and the requirement that participating financial institutions contribute a portion of the programme’s lending portfolio from their own resources, thereby laying the basis for their ongoing involvement in financial services for rural poverty reduction.