ReDIAL comes in with capacity building initiatives and the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) module to address these gaps and contribute to enhancing target farmers’ livelihood outcomes. Since inception, the ReDIAL Project has built the capacity of about 1500 youths and farmers in the operation of the multi-crop thresher (215) and FarmSense (1285) technologies through intensive training workshops and field demonstrations. The aim of this exercise is to transfer marketable skills and knowledge to youths and farmers in the use of these technologies to enable them explore employment/ business opportunities in providing services to farmers with these technologies. Plans are also underway to also train about 1000 target farmers and youths in entrepreneurship and business skills and expose them to climate smart livelihood alternatives such as beekeeping, snail rearing etc.
Moreover, to enhance the financial capacity of target farmers for livelihood diversification, ReDIAL introduced the VSLA module. The VSLA is a self-financing scheme where a group of 15 to 30 people with similar backgrounds and interest make a commitment to meet regularly to save part of their earnings for future use and lend members’ savings to each other. So far, ReDIAL has mobilized smallholder farmers and facilitated the formation of 17 of VSLA groups across the five project zones, with a total membership of 521 people including (349 females; 172 males). The groups meet weekly to make contributions and upon request give loans to members to support their farming and other livelihood activities. Also, ReDIAL provided training for members of the groups in savings, loans, and financial literacy to enable them to understand the value of money and better plan, budget, save, invest, and make more informed financial decisions. During weekly monitoring visits, members of the VSLA groups are continuously sensitized and advised by ReDIAL officers to explore alternative livelihood opportunities around them and invest loans they acquire in same to enhance their incomes.
In about one year of introducing the module, the 17 groups have mobilized a cumulative total of over GHS421,758 and given over GHS200,000 as loans to members at a low interest of 5%. About 80% of the membership have accessed loans at least once, with loan amounts ranging from GHS 200 to GHS 1,500. Interview sessions with members revealed that loans acquired are largely invested in members’ economic activities which has positively affected their incomes and improved their livelihoods. While some members use the loans to invest/expand their farming activities (rent land, purchase farm inputs, hire labour), others invest it in diversified livelihood activities such as trading of provisions, cosmetics, jewelries, clothing, farm inputs etc., food vending, buying, and selling of farm produce, hairdressing, tailoring etc. Some members have also used the loans to support their children’s education and skills training as well as pay their dependents’ hospital/medical bills. In July 2023, 12 out of the 17 groups completed one year cycle of their contribution and with the help of ReDIAL have shared the monies saved together with interest received. The share-out monies are also being used to further expand members’ economic activities, acquire assets, learn vocational skills and pay children’s fees.