Knowledge is potential power; applied knowledge is power. The latter best describes the experience of the Life and Peace Development Organization (LADPO) after participating in the M4P training organized by PIND, MADE and PROMPCOM through CAPABLE in October 2015 says Franklin Oloniju, the Executive Director of LADPO.
“For over two years, we have tried to fashion out ways to empower rural cassava women farmers in target communities of Ondo State as part of LADPO’s effort to support an underserved but critical target group”.
LAPDO carried out focus group discussions with Women farmers in communities in 2014. From the discussions, we were overwhelmed by issues confronting these women – lack of inputs, lack of farming and processing equipment, gender bias in accessing agricultural benefits, poor roads and infrastructure, inadequate finance and so on.
With our very limited project funds, we had been in a state of helplessness about helping as we thought that LAPDO being a development organization should directly bear the burden of addressing some of the issues.
After participating in the Making Markets work for the Poor (M4P) training, we have discovered that we should not be the ‘burden bearer’. All we need do is to facilitate the process of connecting them with resources – technical, material and financial resources available in their communities, local government, financial institutions, private outfits, development agencies, the State.
With what we were taught at the training, LAPDO facilitated meetings with the rural women farmers, these meetings led to the formation of a Cooperative Association of about 4,000 members. We have linked the farmers with service providers including an agricultural input dealer. The women have even provided land for Cassava demonstration after the linkage. We have also facilitated their relationship with an Engineering firm that will help them in constructing farming and processing equipment. We have facilitated their contact with FCMB bank for access to farmers’ funds. We are happy that MADE has followed up with a visit to the women in Ondo State and offering further technical support too.
The M4P training has helped LAPDO to re-think our approach to providing development support and LAPDO has moved ahead in its objective of empowering poor rural farmers in Ondo State.