FinMark Trust has again sponsored a course on agricultural and rural finance in partnership with Continuing Education at the University of Pretoria which is currently underway and runs from 14th to 26th September 2015. FinMark Trust supports access to finance for agriculture as a key driver in ensuring that food security in the SADC region is attained. To this end, the course which was first sponsored and piloted in 2014, forms a key component of FinMark Trust’s agricultural and rural finance development programme for the SADC region.
The objective of the course is to provide an understanding of the requirements to reach out to smallholder farmers and to serve them sustainably with an appropriate range of financial products and services. It is designed specifically to provide strategic, rather than operational guidance for senior and middle management in Southern African agricultural finance institutions and non-bank organisations that provide financial services to smallholder farmers. The course will also benefit senior staff in government departments and parastatals tasked with supporting the provision of financial services for smallholders or with monitoring private sector performance in this market.
In total 17 participants are attending the course representing Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. The number of countries participating in the programme is testament to the interest in the course as well as the need for support to small-holder farmers with financial products and services for their sustainability. Geoff Orpen, head of rural and agricultural finance at FinMark Trust is of the view that “in order to meet the challenge of feeding 1 .5 billion people by 2030 and 2 billion by 2050, there needs to be investment in agriculture in order to reassure agricultural producers and other stakeholders in the agri-food value chains.”
Some of the modules in the programme relate to economic development frameworks and the role of agriculture economic theory and finance; challenges of increasing outreach and inclusion; public/private NGO policy goals; rural urban livelihoods; smallholder agriculture and credit, savings, transmission insurance; public sector suppliers, history, instruments, and evaluation. Other courses are approaches to risk management (financial institutions); banker-farmer intermediation; agricultural value-chains and value chain development. This list is not exhaustive.
The course is accredited by the University of Pretoria as a skills development programme in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority’s criteria and guidelines for short courses and skills programmes. Participants who complete the course and who meet the relevant assessment criteria will receive a certificate from the University of Pretoria.