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International development

No food security without economic empowerment

March 3, 2023

Economic empowerment is a prerequisite for food security anywhere in the world.

It requires sustainable access to financial services adapted to each person's needs, a solid financial education, and the power to control their own finances.

There is a close and demonstrated link between economic empowerment and increased agrifood production, higher average food energy consumption and lower rates of malnutrition.


What's the connection between financial inclusion and food security?

When disadvantaged populations gain long-term access to financial services that meet their needs, they can:

  • increase their food production and consumption
  • protect themselves from risks and unforeseen events
  • create new livelihoods in rural areas, businesses and jobs—including for young people
  • adopt practices and technology that help them adapt to climate change, protect the environment, and make sustainable use of resources
  • and ensure their future


The role of education and support

At the same time, financial education and support services offered to both farmers and entrepreneurs improve:

  • technical and entrepreneurial skills development
  • access to inputs
  • access to local, regional and international markets
  • economic reinforcement of every link in the value chain


Supporting farmers to make food more available

In sub-Saharan Africa, difficult access to inputs and funding is a major impediment to agricultural production. Our solution is to create the right financial tool to give farmers access to the appropriate amount of high-quality inputs when they need them.

In Burkina Faso, we've worked with many local partners to design and offer a credit product that has given farmers easier access to environmentally-friendly, innovative inputs, tools and techniques, which they have used to increase their yield and their community's food security.

"Our cowpea output used to be just one sack or a sack and a half," says farmer Hamidou Sawadogo. "Since the project teams arrived and showed us how to optimize our production techniques," he continues, "our yield has been around three to four sacks, sometimes five."

In Benin, soy farmers have used a similar new credit product to significantly increase their output. "The increase in yields is directly related to proper inputs used at the right time and in the right way thanks to the training. The lowest yields went from 500 kg/ha to 1,500 kg/ha, with a record 2,800 kg/ha. It's almost unreal!" testifies Mr Kinnou of the Nikki community cooperative.


Supporting young farmers to ensure adequate income

In Colombia, to increase food security for women and young people in rural areas, we are supporting their financial inclusion and skills enhancement. We give rural women and youth the opportunity to build their credit history, get a solid financial education and gain confidence.

Agricapital, a rural bank that we are supporting for this project, offers rural women and youth technical support and training in addition to farm credit. For farmers, this support makes all the difference. "I thank coffee for giving us everything we have, including schooling and food. The coffee culture is how we earn our living," says coffee producer Jose Daniel Alvarez Vazquez. "If you're going to grow, you need better financial muscles. It's very difficult to get a loan these days if you're young and have no credit history."

Dora Amaya grows coffee and bananas in the town of Andes, Colombia. Through the Profem project, this impressive rural entrepreneur secured a loan from Agricapital that she used to source top-quality inputs and improve the quality of her coffee and bananas. She also invested some of the money into buying a house, where she now lives with her four children and four grandchildren.


Lending to entrepreneurs to increase their economic and food independence

The goal of our STEP project is to supply rural clients in Vietnam with diversified products and services. In this 95% rural operation, the project is improving food security around the country.

In the rural district of Phú Lộc, Chi Hoa, Chi Hạnh and Chị Sơn sell vegetables, fish and seafood, and cakes at the market. To finance their income-generating activities, each one has taken out a loan on which she makes daily payments. Doing business with the People's Credit Fund (PCF) of Phú Lộc, the local financial cooperative, means they don't have to take out high-interest loans from black-market lenders.

"Each week, we save a certain amount of money that we pool as an emergency fund. The income we generate every day helps us pay our basic daily family expenses, like food. We're especially proud of being able to earn our own income. In addition to reducing financial stress, we now have a budget for ourselves and don't have to rely on our husband or children," the women explain.