From the Editors,
We have added a new section in the Library named “Agricultural Innovation”. As we know, innovation in agriculture and in finance is much broader than technology or product innovation. Process innovation, knowledge management innovation and new approaches and innovations for management systems, value chain partnerships, etc. are equally important. Such innovation can improve productivity, competitiveness, and economic growth and can play an important role in creating jobs, generating income, alleviating poverty, and driving social development. In this new section we will try to provide information on innovation in rural finance, banking, savings, funding as well as agricultural systems innovatiion.
One new highlight in the Rural Finance Learning Centre is “Innovation in Rural and Agricultural Finance” by The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) . This set of briefs points out the importance of business realities faced by small farmers and the lack of access to modern financial instruments. It argues that new and innovative institutions are required to reach small farmers. New financing instruments, such as weather index-based insurance and microinsurance, also have great potential for managing the risks faced by small farmers. In addition, bundling financial services with nonfinancial services such as marketing and extension services offers new opportunities for small farmers to increase their productivity and incomes. Finally, an enabling policy environment and legal framework, enforcement of rules and regulations, and adequate rural infrastructure all contribute immensely to making sustainable access to finance a reality.
Also the World Bank report, “Designing and Implementing Agricultural Innovation Funds” describes experiences with the two main innovation funds that the World Bank has used to fund agricultural innovation—competitive research grants and matching grants—and offers lessons and guidelines for designing and implementing them. Many countries are using innovation funds in the agricultural sector to provide incentives for private sector innovation and entrepreneurship, including business models and approaches which support rural producers.
Also, recently published Policy Brief on Agricultural Finance in Africa builds upon the analysis of policy issues and the formulation of recommendations emanating from the “Zipping Finance and Farming in Africa Conference” which was organized by Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) in Kampala, Uganda in June 2011. The document provides a set of policy recommendations designed to help promote the expansion of agricultural finance in Africa with a focus on those that can make the most difference in expanding access to financial services for producers, agribusinesses and other agricultural value chain participants within the African context.
In 2012 there are many important events being held on cooperatives as part of the UN "International Year of Cooperatives.” We would like to highlight the upcoming Africa Finance & Investment Forum (AFIF) 2012 on “Financial inclusion through SMEs & Cooperatives” being organized by EMRC in partnership with the Rabobank, the renowned Dutch cooperative bank. The forum is from June 17-19, 2012 at the Rabobank headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The Forum is aimed at strengthening the private sector in Africa, by encouraging partnerships and attracting investments. It is designed for entrepreneurs interested in securing finance for their projects, for private investors looking for projects, as well as for policy makers, financiers and bankers. The event includes business-to-business meetings in addition to the range of workshops and plenary sessions.
We would like to conclude May’s newsletter with the multimedia section on Agriculture Innovation. The selected video materials can be viewed by clicking here.
The RFLC editorial team