The Contribution of Farmers Self Help Groups in Enhancing the Smallholder Maize Farmers Income in Southern Rwanda (Published)
Farmers’ Self Help Groups are inclusive of the poor and are charged with the purpose of becoming a market outlet for smallholder farmers in Rwanda. Improving farmers’ income earning capability and agricultural productivity has been an important strategy of Rwanda’s agriculture development policy. However, despite their growing importance, empirical studies on how farmers’ organizations have impacted their members’ income are limited in Rwanda. This study investigates the economic role played by farmers SHGs to their members, the maize production before and after joining the SHG, the income of these smallholder farmers, the saving effects on farm income, and the living standards situation before and after SHGs participation using the sample of 75 smallholder maize producers in Southern Rwanda. The t paired test was used to analyze the situation before and after joining the SHG in terms of Savings, Production and monthly expenses and the Chi Square test was used to test the significance of time of joining the SHG and the opening the bank accounts for savings and accessing to loans. The results revealed that the savings, the production and the monthly expenses increased after joining the farmers SHGs and the time opening of bank accounts for saving, access to loans and other banking activities are significant to time of joining the SHG. Since farmers are resource poor and that farmer Self Help Groups are constrained by various institutional, technical and investment constraints despite their potential, it is recommended that favorable policies should be geared toward smallholder agriculture in Rwanda in order to ensure the success of farmer Self Help Groups. The results show that farmer groups can be an important institution for the transformation of smallholder farming, increase productivity and incomes thereby reducing poverty. Agricultural policies in Rwanda should therefore focus more on the intensification of agriculture and farmers’ Self Help Groups and increase the market orientation of the smallholder farm sector.