Siam Organic began a partnership with Kiva in 2016 to increase the social impact we generate for Jasberry farmers. Kiva is non-profit organization that allows people to lend money via their website to low-income entrepreneurs and students in over 80 countries, with the mission “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” Last year, Kiva users funded loans to Jasberry farmers for the purposes of purchasing farming inputs before the planting season. Smallholder farmers are frequently short on cash before planting, and it is often difficult for them to invest in inputs like high quality seeds and organic fertilizer that would allow them to achieve the best yields. Farmers without access to cash or credit are unable to purchase higher quality inputs, and are trapped in a cycle of low yields and low profits. Loans from Kiva users last year made it much easier for Jasberry farmers to purchase seeds and fertilizer, directly contributing to higher yields and profits.
This year, we have started a new project with Kiva to help Jasberry farmers purchase cows using credit from Kiva users. Cows benefit our farmers in a number of ways. As organic farmers, cows are a critical component of self-sufficient and sustainable farming. Farmers use manure from the cows to produce their own organic fertilizer, reducing their input costs while also improving yields and soil health. Cows also help control weeds in fields by eating grasses that compete with rice. Finally, cows can be bred, raised, and sold at a profit within a few short years. In this way, cows serve to diversify farmer income, making them less reliant on a single crop for their annual income.
Nineteen loans for cows were funded by Kiva users in March, so our Field Coordinator Nhon and our Kiva portfolio manager Mark took a trip to visit our farmers last week. They met with our field officers and the farmers who received the loans, and took a visit to a local cow market to start finding cows for our farmers. It was a great visit where Nhon and Mark learned about the life-changing loans Kiva users have provided for Jasberry farmers.