SIRDEP Launches its ‘Voices from the Field’ Series

 

As part of its efforts to strengthen its communications platform, SIRDEP is proud to launch a new series entitled Voices from the Field.  This series will highlight the grass roots impact that SIRDEP has had on its beneficiaries over the years, through it three technical components.  The focus of this series will largely be on individuals or small groups at the grass roots level. 

Our intention is to demonstrate that, despite the many challenges facing development efforts in Cameroon, individuals can be positively impacted through an organizational culture which promotes thoughtful design, disciplined implementation, and rigorous self assessment.   

The first of our stories highlights a farmer from the North West Region of Cameroon and explains how two modest loans have tangibly and positively affected his quality of life. 

We hope that you enjoy this new series and we look forward to your feedback.

The SIRDEP Team 

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 Voices from the Field–  How Micro-credit Loans Improved the Life of Chu Rube Jonathan

A Brief History

Since 2000, SIRDEP’s Agriculture & Economic Development component has been providing direct loans to improve the quality of lives of farmers in the North West Region.  In all, the component has lent millions of Central African Francs (CFA) to farmers to implement various projects at the grass roots level.  These loans are not restricted to any single use by the farmers, ensuring that the money is used specifically for their most relevant needs.  SIRDEP is partnered with various government programs including the National Employment Fund (NEF) and MIDENO (under Cameroon’s Ministry of Agriculture).

Micro-credit lending is a primary area of focus under the component’s 5 year objective to improve on the economic well being of farmers.  Other areas of focus to achieve this objective include: increasing crop and livestock production and productivity as well as improving marketing channels for farmer products.  

Meet Mr. Chu Rube Jonathan

Mr. Chu Rube is primarily a palm oil farmer in the Ako Subdivision within the Danga-Mantum Division of the North West Region.  In 2004, Mr. Chu Rube received a loan of 1.5 million CFA from SIRDEP to increase the production and productivity of his current farming operations.  After successfully paying back his loan in full, in 2006 Mr. Chu Rube received a second loan from SIRDEP worth 2 million CFA which continued assisting the farmer in expanding operations and improving production and productivity.

Mr. Chu Rube leveraged these loans to maximize two key elements of his operations:

Land expansion.  The combined loans have allowed Mr. Chu Rube to expand his available farming land 100% from roughly 1 hectare to 2.2 hectares.  This expansion has provided greater absolute production and longer-term growth potential. 

Improved technology.  Mr. Chu Rube has been able to purchase various processing technologies to improve the efficiency of his operations, allowing him a greater margin and higher return on investment. 

Mr. Chu Rube’s ability to improve production and productivity has translated into a number of benefits that have improved the quality of life for him and his family:

Increased educational opportunities.  All of Mr. Chu Rube’s children now attend school on a regular basis.  Costs surrounding schooling can be covered as a result in his increase in revenue.  Rural farmers often do not have the means to formally educate their children.  The ability of famers to provide educational opportunities is a critical indicator for SIRDEP in measuring the program’s success. 

Housing expansion.  Mr. Chu Rube has built two new houses and expanded his compound to address growing family housing needs.  The ability to address housing needs is a critical indicator of success as the component assesses the impact of its lending program.

Increased social status.  Mr. Chu Rube has earned a greater recognition in the community as a result of the loans and his expansion of operations.  His level of engagement has increased through a number of partnerships with local and government entities.  Within the community, he has emerged as a leader in various farming issues.    

The story of Mr. Chu Rube is just one example of hundreds of farmers that SIRDEP has, or continues, to assist through its micro-credit lending program.  In the face of so many obstacles we cannot forget that our work is making a difference.  Through its recently adopted Strategic Plan, SIRDEP and the Agriculture & Economic Development component are committed to improving this program and expanding its breadth to reach a wider group of farmers in the North West Region.    

SIRDEP welcomes any comments or questions concerning their micro-credit lending program or the story of Mr. Chu Rube.

Ms. Wanja Bridget is the Head of the Agriculture & Economic Development component.  She can be reached at wanja.bridget@yahoo.com

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About SIRDEP
The Society for Initiatives in Rural Development and Environmental Protection (SIRDEP) is non-governmental, not-for-profit making organization in Cameroon head quartered in Bamenda. SIRDEP has a multi-disciplinary team of experienced agronomists, agro-economists, livestock technicians, rural engineers, and natural resource management experts who work together to foster positive, sustainable development. SIRDEP was founded in 1992 and is one of the oldest indigenous NGOs in the North West Region of Cameroon.

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