Saturday, October 21, 2017


Today we had an easy day – we are going to visit Ipogolo!  Ipogolo (also known as ipogoro) lies at the bottom of the hill from Iringa town.  It took us less than 20 minutes to drive there.

Since Ipogolo is a SACCOS that lies on the edge of town, many of the members are engaged in business pursuits or have “town jobs” in addition to their farm activities.  This means that a week-day meeting doesn’t work well, but unfortunately, Saturday meetings are not always good either, since most members will be at their shambas (farms) working. 

When we arrived at Ipogolo the SACCOS and AMCOS chairmen were waiting for us.  Ipogolo was the site of our first IDC building and was one of the first villages to have both a SACCOS and an AMCOS.  We went to the SACCOS office to collect some information.  The Ipogolo SACCOS now has 87 members and the AMCOS has 58.  There is only a 50% overlap between the membership so overall this location is now serving 116 families or about 740 people.  Last year the SACCOS borrowed $16,000 from the Iringa Hope Joint SACCOS.  Combining this with their own capital they made 48 loans.  Unfortunately, there was very little rainfall last year so the crops for some of the members were exceedingly poor.  As a result there are 12 members that have not repaid their loans in full.  The SACCOS officers and loan committee met with all of the people involved and are collecting most of the funds.  There are a few who remain troubled, but they are getting the village officials involved and are taking the right steps.

Tom saw some children from the school that Ipogolo runs.
As soon as they saw him and his camera they all came running.
When the chairman was asked why there was so much trouble with repayment this year he explained that the SACCOS decided to give all of the loans in terms of fertilizer, not cash.  As a result, many people did not diversify like they have other years (they often raise chickens, pigs, or do other things as well as farming).  Then, when the rains did not come, there was a group of members who got almost no crop.  Without other avenues of income they were really struggling.  In the future the SACCOS leaders will be emphasizing the importance of diversification.

We went next door to the AMCOS portion of the
IDC building.  Here they have stacked up some bags of maize which they are storing, waiting for prices to go up.  Unlike Nduli and a few other locations, there are only 70 or 100 bags here; not the 300 or so that we have found elsewhere.  The chairman explained that most of the members could not store maize here since they needed to sell right away to pay bills. Tom explained how the other IDCs are using the bags of maize to offset loans so the members do not have to sell to repay their loans.  The chairman seemed to like this approach and thought they would use it another year.

We kicked off our meeting with introductions.  There were very few members here today so Tom gave then a talk about how important it is to attend the meetings.  He suggested that they needed to take attendance and ensure that members are participating.  There are so few people here that we
interviewed two men today instead of the usual man and woman.

Venance was with us today and held his class on herbicide use.  We went over to the SACCOS office and began our interviews.  Sandy began by talking to Gideon Ndegela.

Gideon is 70 years old, married and the father of nine children and grandfather to 13.  He lives with his wife and three of his grandchildren who are going to school here in Iringa.  He belongs to both the SACCOS and the AMCOS and serves as the AMCOS chairman.  He recently borrowed $450 in fertilizer for his three acre farm.  He told us that he used to get at most 30 bags of maize.  This year he harvested 68 bags, and he would have done better had the rains come on time.  So far he has sold 20 bags but he is waiting to sell the rest when the prices rise.  He expects that when he has sold all of his bags he will have increased his income by $1,500, making his income from his farm about $3,000 this year.  So far he has used the income from the 20 bags to lay the foundation for a new home.  When he finishes selling his crop he plans to complete his house, pay school fees for his grandchildren, and save some more.

Gideon went off to get his picture taken and Sandy started talking to Batwel Kahemela.  Batwel is 52, married, and the father of six and grandfather of one.  There are five people living in his home.  Two of his children are now going to government secondary school and two are going to private schools.

When Batwel got his first loan from the SACCOS he was farming two acres.  He borrowed $200 and bought fertilizer for his fields.  It was a bad year that year, but still he harvested 30 bags of maize.  Prices were good, however, so he sold his crop for $1,500 giving him a $1,200 profit.  He started to build a five-room brick home for his family and added to his savings.

His second loan was for $300.  He bought more fertilizer to use on his two acres.  When he harvested his maize he got 45 bags!  Although his crop was larger the prices were much lower that year so he only earned a $1,150 profit.  He used this to send his children to school and to buy another acre of land.  He also increased his savings a little and finished his new house to the roof line.

Last year he borrowed $400 in fertilizer for his three acres of maize.  The weather at his farm was not good, but he managed to harvest 55 bags of maize.  He has sold 10 bags so far and is waiting to sell the rest when the price rises.  He thinks he will have earned a $1,700 profit when he is done selling his crop.  He plans to finish his house, pay school fees, and maybe save a little more.

When were leaving the children came over to see Sandy.  She counted with them
in English and then Swahili. 
When Venance had finished his class he told us that the members here are very interested in using herbicides on their fields next year.  They have seen others use them and realize it will help their yields, while saving on labor cost.  Gideon, the AMCOS chair, told us that he expects that this year
the AMCOS will be able to provide herbicides and seed in addition to fertilizer.

No comments:

Post a Comment