Agricultural Finance Launches in Intibucá
Today, Adelante celebrates World Food Day with the announcement of our new agricultural loan directed to smallholder women farmers in western Honduras. By the end of October, we plan to reach 20 women from rural communities of Intibucá and La Paz with micro-loans of about $250 each. This year’s World Food Day theme is family farming, which holds the objective of bringing greater attention to our world’s smallholder farmers.
In 2009, Maria took out her first loan for under $100 to invest in bread production. This business supplements the income she receives growing and selling basic grains, fruits and vegetables in La Paz. She is among the many women from the area we hope to reach in the coming months with this agricultural loan.
The departments of Intibucá and La Paz are located in the western highlands, which faces the highest poverty levels in the country. Adelante first opened operations in this area in 2006 to provide women with loans as low as $25 to invest in their own entrepreneurial activities.
While this financial support has allowed for the opening and expansion of women-run businesses for the past eight years, the majority of our clients continue to dedicate much of their time to family farm activities. Through agricultural workshops hosted in partnership with Women’s Empowerment International, we have addressed many women’s demand for education relevant to their needs, including irrigation, organic fertilizers, and planting methods.
Clients from these areas have traditionally used their loans to invest in sources of income that are supplementary to the earnings that come from their harvests of potatoes, broccoli, peppers, carrots and coffee. This is because a woman’s small corner store, clothing sales, or market stall provides a steady, yet small, source of income to maintain stability throughout the year. This support has been key to ensuring their families’ resistance to agricultural price shocks and low cash-flow before harvests. However, Adelante is committed to providing financial support where these women need it the most – in agriculture.
In a report published this year, Feed the Future reveals that the greatest challenges to equality for women in the western region of Honduras are their control over income, and access to and decisions regarding credit. Adelante’s model, which dedicates over 99% of loan pool to women, has worked to address the inequity of credit access for many years. This agricultural loan will direct support exactly where the women are facing the greatest obstacles to inclusion.
In recent visits with our clients, women expressed their interest in investing in more lucrative crops, increasing their production, or adding value to their final product. These women know their capabilities and understand their current limitations. They are prepared and eager to increase their participation in the management of agricultural activities within their families to promote equity and progress out of poverty. We accept the greater risks that come with agricultural financing, but recognize the positive impact that agricultural finance can have for these small producers is much more significant.