Agriculture and Rural Development
|Women entrepreneurs in Nias, Indonesia, describe how they manage community loans and expand business ventures.|
In our visit to Hiliweto village of Gido district of Nias, the mission team visited the home of one of the women's group leaders to chat with informal women entrepreneurs on how they manage their community loans and expand their business ventures. At first, the group was reluctant to even answer a question, but Joachim broke the ice by agreeing to have the women ask about him – for example, where he comes from, married or not, children, etc. As the discussion went into a more relaxed mode, we asked what specific program benefits them the most. They all hailed microfinancing. Getting small loans is a common problem in Indonesia because credit is difficult to obtain from banks without having any collateral as a guarantee.
|The country is often dismissed as the Pacific's failed state, yet conversations with community members and officials reveal clear visions of what a state can provide in terms of services and a role in community life.|
The Gizo airstrip, reportedly built for a visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the 1970s, occupies the entire length of the island of Nusatupe – as a quick look at Google Maps confirms. It is located picturesquely, if ultimately somewhat inconveniently, about two kilometers from the provincial capital island of Gizo. As I was beginning to wonder how I was going to make my way to Gizo, a team from the Government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock fortunately pulled up in an outboard motorboat.
In December, just three months after my arrival in the Solomon Islands to serve as the World Bank’s country manager, I chose Western Province for my second trip out of Honiara. One of the main goals in my first year on the job is to visit each of the nine provinces to begin gaining some understanding of this small but complex country.
|The flooding has resulted in mass cancellation of tourist travel plans, which will flow through to job losses, business failures and ultimately affect families already suffering from the direct impact of the floods.|
So far, at least 11 people have been reported killed, from drowning and mudslides, though given the isolation of many villages, this number is probably much understated.
As would be expected the immediate impact is widespread damage to infrastructure. Homes, public buildings and businesses have been destroyed with around 10,000 people living in evacuation centres. Roads and bridges have been washed away effectively cutting off access for emergency workers and rescue teams. Electricity and water supplies have been cut and food supplies destroyed, washed away or still underwater.
|One thing villages in Pacific Island countries can do is to organize the farmers to cultivate the land of participating farmers collectively, increasing manpower and thus improving productivity.|
Land development for commercial agriculture is limited in most of these islands due to issues surrounding communal ownership of land. Take an example of a small farming village in the rural areas near the capital city of Fiji. This village consists of seventy households, of which sixty live below the national poverty line. The head of each household has the right to cultivate a portion of the communal land to feed his family.
The direct financial effects of the global financial crisis have so far been limited due to Zambia’s reliance in domestic funding and limited exposure to external credit lines. However, the central bank has increased interest rates sharply as a result of portfolio outflows.
At a recent AERC research workshop in Nairobi, I made a comment about African governments’ not spending enough money on public goods, and spending too much on private goods such as fertilizers. The comment seemed to have struck a nerve. Several people in the audience pointed out that, in Malawi, fertilizer subsidies have increased cereal production, so government spending on fertilizers was not such a bad thing. Going beyond the general arguments that these fertilizer subsidies often don’t reach farmers (they’re