Shortage of kerosene and visa problems
The effects of the war in Ukraine are being felt worldwide. Our guests from Burkina Faso were confronted with this when their flight was cancelled due to a lack of fuel at the airport. They eventually arrived a day and half late. Camara, the head of UIMCEC’s agricultural financing cell from Senegal, was unable to travel with his general manager, Ousmane. He was denied a visa for unknown reasons and was forced to follow the meetings online.
Of course, agricultural conditions in the regions of our partners differ greatly from those in Belgium. But for the participants, the meetings with KBC and CBC colleagues in the agricultural credit department were very inspiring. For most, it was a pleasant reunion with Johan, Christian or Arnold. These three specialists had already been on location to share their expertise with colleagues in Senegal or Burkina Faso. They in turn showed how they organise themselves in Belgium to work together with other supporters to finance farmers. This peer-to-peer exchange led to lively discussions and, above all, to many ideas for our future collaboration.
Farmers in the spotlight
“No agriculture without farmers” is a slogan that pops up regularly in Belgium to ask for appreciation of the work of the farmer. “No agricultural credit without farmers” is likewise the obvious phrase. And in the cooperative spirit of this exchange, the cooperation with and for the farmer is central. How do you detect the farmer’s needs and involve him or her in the various purchasing, training, financing and sales services? And so we literally picked up the farmer with visits to chicory producer Rudi, to Paul’s mixed arable-livestock farm, who also provided training for Trias in Latin America regarding the storage of potatoes, an issue that is also very relevant for Senegal and Burkina, and to La Ferme de Peuplier from the organic vegetable farmer Gwenaël. They are not only customers of KBC or CBC, but above all farmers who enthusiastically demonstrated their life’s work and were able to give a taste of it as well when they could.
Deep roots, wide branches.
F.W. Raiffeisen asked himself a clear question more than 150 years ago: “How can we improve the lives of farmers?” The answer? “By doing together what we are too small to do alone”. Working together and believing in the abilities of everyone at all stages of agricultural production formed the basis of his savings and loan cooperative. The savings and credit cooperatives of our partners in Senegal and Burkina Faso have in the meantime also existed for decades. They enjoy the trust of thousands of members, most of whom are farmers. Despite the differences in distance and circumstances, cooperation between farmers, farmers’ organisations, sales channels such as auctions, agricultural financiers, etc. remains the core of the answer to the question posed 150 years ago.
This visit is the start of an undoubtedly long-term partnership in which the exchange of experiences and commitment on the ground will lead to a clear positive economic and social impact.