New Digital Solution Supports Smallholder Farmers to Access Finance
May 30, 2022
Loise Garosas from Rundu, Kavango East Region in Namibia is one of the beneficiaries of Namibia’s first digital agriculture (E-Voucher) granting system, which was introduced through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Land Reform (MAWLR) and funded by the Government of Japan. Namibia’s e-voucher granting system was implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Namibia in partnership with stakeholders from the private sector.
The e-voucher granting system is an innovative digital system funded by the Government of Japan and requires almost non-internet conditions, which is vital for its successful deployment in the rural areas. As implementing partner, UNDP issued a grant, which was disbursed by the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) as grant and fund administrator. Voucher cards were issued to project beneficiaries for use at selected agro- procurement outlets identified as execution partners.
“I can say that this e-Voucher card has taken me from depression to success. I have been able to employ people to build three chicken coops in such a short time and also place an order for my chickens. I just had to take my card to the agricultural dealer outlets and used my e- voucher card to order what I need and it was delivered here. Simple as that!”
Previously, emergency relief subsistence grants have been distributed across Namibia through paper-based vouchers, but this paper-based system presented several challenges, including the availability of real-time data for decision making, information and traceability of beneficiaries such as Loise. Implementing this e-voucher system will generate data and evidence to strengthen institutional capacities for improved accountability and increased efficiencies in grant management. Through data collected, the digital grant and subsidy issuing system would also serve as a monitoring tool to demonstrate the equitable distribution of grants to intended beneficiaries. This will also strengthen decision making at the national level, especially on the impact of interventions on beneficiaries such as Loise.
When Loise first thought about raising chickens, her goal was to improve the nutrition of her family. She felt that if she could at least provide her children with nutritious food through the chicken eggs, she would be contributing something to the well-being of her family.
“I had lost all hope and I was seriously depressed. I did not have my job again and my small business was liquidating the little money our family was surviving from. My husband was the only one supporting me and our children and it was becoming too much for him.”
Loise first started with 7 chickens in her backyard in Kaisosi, a neighbourhood in Rundu. She found herself spending more time in her backyard coop, and as she spent more time with the chickens, she learned to understand their behaviors so that she could take better care of them. She learned to spot a sickly chicken in time to quickly isolate it from the others to prevent the sickness from spreading to the others.
“It was tough at first even with just a few chickens, because I did not know much about raising chickens, but I persevered because it gave me something to put my mind into. At least I was doing something instead of feeling depressed and hopeless”
Loise’s dedication to her chickens paid off and she was able to start giving her children eggs for breakfast and even had a few to share with her neighbours. As she started to experience the benefits of raising chickens, her passion for poultry farming increased. However, without access to finance, which is one of the major barriers to increasing agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers in Namibia, Loise felt stuck.
Even though Loise did not have the financial means to buy more chickens, she decided to learn as much as she could about how to successfully raise chickens. The learning and passion came to a head when Loise was selected as one of the beneficiaries of the e- voucher system, which focuses on enabling market access to agricultural inputs for smallholder farmers through the involvement of various agricultural dealer outlets.
"I am so excited because I have finished building three chicken coops and I have transferred the chickens from my backyard into one. Tomorrow I am expecting to receive 100 broilers, 20 guinea fowls and 12 Geese.”
Using the grant she received through the e-voucher card, Loise has been able to bring her dreams of becoming a poultry farmer to reality.
I made good profit from the little chicken I had before, so you can imagine what I will do with the additional that I was able to buy with my e-voucher card. I can also employ more people in my community to help me with the work. My sincere thank you goes to the people of Japan and UNDP Namibia; I can now call myself a poultry farmer!”
The (e-voucher) digital granting system has proven effective in enhancing financial access and resilience of smallholder farmers, including their size of production, income and self- esteem. By exploring innovative solutions, and expanding access to technology, Namibia’s E-Voucher system is catalyzing advancements in the local food systems and achieving the goals of inclusive economic development.