IFC Project- Biweekly Meeting 5- Last Two Weeks Reporting Experience by the Field Team- 28 February 2022

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Gurmessa (FR- Meki): My last month was pleasant, however, I had trouble establishing an internet connection. Aside from that, the task has been going well, especially during the last two days. I’ve been keeping careful track of their responses. The most interesting thing I noticed in the last few days was that they became comfortable with all of my queries and began telling me how much income they received or how much of a loan they took out without me having to ask them. There were three respondents who challenged me, but after I informed them that we were almost done with the survey, they were cooperative. The other issue was that they were very busy, and I had difficulty finding them, but I had planned ahead of time and was able to organize a meeting based on their availability. I am also done with the insurance and access to loan and supply chain.

More than 95% of the respondents have a positive outlook towards loans but they relate it to religion and don’t want any interest out of it. When asked about the minimum and maximum amount to take a loan they replied with 5,000-100,000. Related to this there are different microfinance institutions here, but they don’t want to take a loan from them due to different factors. The first one was that the institutions require a 17% of interest rate, secondly, they are afraid that if the amount is not repaid within the given time, they will have to sell their properties and even might go to jail. Furthermore, they are in the vegetable business, which is risky due to market fluctuations and various reasons such as disease and pests. So, if it disappears, they will have difficulty repaying their debt.

I also had many comments from the villagers, such as “what kind of job are you doing that it took you this long,” and when we informed them, they said they had never seen anything like it and encouraged us. Due to the fact that the vegetable business is a continuous job, they harvest at least 3 times throughout the year. So, in order to get market benefited they adjust their work schedule. So, there are yields that are yet to be harvested, there are also already harvested ones. But we can’t say the harvesting is done because there are respondents who are in the farm or crop preparation stage. Perhaps one of my respondents named Hussein was done with harvesting when I was starting the diaries so his activity was on the sawing, and because of that, I haven’t registered his income yet and he will be starting the harvesting activity after a month. And there are also respondents that didn’t harvest yet but the majority of them have already harvested it and sold it. Because of the perishability of vegetables, they don’t store them. Meaning, once they harvest, they immediately sell them.  

Tekalign (FR-Assela): During the past month I have been doing both the loan supply and livelihood, so it was a month where I got a lot of new insights, especially, that their perspective on loans is not positive. They believe that if someone takes out a loan, he is in trouble, thus they only take out short-term loans from friends or dealers. Despite their lack of interest in taking a loan from a microfinance organization, I saw that there are women Eders who give loans in the summer to allow them to work on it because they earn a small amount of interest. Some of them purchased a sheep with the intention of selling it during the holiday season. Because almost everyone’s cost pattern is the same, when asked when they were paid, they all said January and February.

They also have other sources of income, such as buying an ox from one marketplace and selling it to another, renting homes, and some individuals working in bars. This is how they make a living, but if we only look at the agricultural component, this past season was their earning period. I had a hard time filling in the gaps because I was collecting data on paper and inputting it took a long time. When it comes to selling their crops, they are refusing to do so, due to the incident from last year. Last year, they sold crops for 1,800 ETB as soon as harvesting began, but within six months, the price had risen to roughly 4,600 ETB. As a result, if they don’t need the crops for weddings or horse purchases, they store them in the hope that the price will rise. This year’s pricing began at 3,800 ETB and has since risen to 4,200 ETB, indicating that the price is steadily increasing. They used to sell crops to dealers as soon as they harvested them, but now that they are aware of the trend and are storing them. There are 2 dealers in that area, and they said because the price is getting higher within a week, they sold around 500,000 ETB worth of crops. But some are doubtful that the price will drop. However, because it is currently rising, they are not concerned, particularly those who own cattle and sell butter and milk didn’t think of selling it now as an issue.

Tigist (FR-Dangla): I didn’t face many challenges during the past weeks. When they get asked about the loan question, out of the 25 only 2 or 3% replied with “No, we don’t want loans”, because they are fearful of having to sell their property if they take a loan and don’t repay it on time. The remaining respondents seek a loan because they are not only surviving in the agricultural field but also in business in this area, thus they said they would take up to 1,000,000 ETB. However, they have no knowledge of microfinance institutions. I answered no to practically all of the questions. The other thing was that they get bored and tired of being asked questions over and over again. They keep asking me “Why are you coming every week and What is the result?”. And it was also holiday time, so I had a hard time reaching out to them. The dealers have challenged me a bit; they would turn off their phones. So, giving them rewards would be fantastic because they don’t require much to be pleased, and it would help the job run smoothly.

When it came to harvesting, practically all of them had finished and stowed their harvest. However, some of them harvested it but did not stick it yet, while others sold a small bit for daily consumption, and the rest stated that they would sell it in May or June. Those with a large farm have begun selling crops worth up to 20,000 ETB, but the majority are harvesting and storing it. They also used Teff and Degussa for personal consumption rather than for resale because there isn’t much of it to sell in the market.

Samuel (FR-Butajira): My past 2 weeks were good and there was a better understanding among us. But they get a bit confused when asked about the loan question. They were wondering if loans would be granted to them because they didn’t have any information about the research and thought we were from an organization. It took me a while to explain to them that we weren’t from an organization. Because they are working in the vegetable business, and as Gurmessa indicated, it is a continual job, the majority of my respondents desire a loan. One of my respondents told me he would take up to 15,000 ETB right away if a loan was available. They would form a group of four or five people to apply for a loan because the loan system in that area was inconsistent.

Microfinance institutions are their sole option for taking loans, but there are many processes involved, and they said it would be fantastic if there was a way for them to take loans more quickly as well also those who have taken loans have had a terrible experience. When it came to the diaries, we had a better understanding of each other, and I was asking them if there was anything new, not as a question but playfully, and they would openly tell me. In general, some of them have already harvested and are beginning to prepare their farm, while others have finished preparing their farm and are beginning to harvest. Some of them are preparing chilly, while others are preparing Khat, but I found them working every day, and they use spring water as well as a water pump, and they consume a lot of fuel, to the point where they are asking for a loan to cover their fuel expenses. My last two weeks have been great.

Melesech (FR-awi): as Tigist mentioned before there was the boredom of answering questions again and again. I also had difficulty reaching them through the phone because there was no network connection within these past 3 days. The other thing was that they were hardworking individuals, and whenever they finished harvesting, they would look for other sources of income, such as working as laborers or security guards. As a result, I was reporting income sources and accounts in a new way. When it comes to the loan, they seek a loan but have little knowledge of interest rates. They want to work in fields other than agriculture, and they need a loan to do so. Almost all of them have finished harvesting and have sold their crops. They must prepare their land; thus they do not store soya unless it is required for daily consumption.

Ibrahim (FR-Bekoji): They were getting bored due to the fact that it took a long time. Related to the harvesting, the price is getting higher, so they are not selling it now. The price has risen to 4,200 ETB, and they have additional fees such as land rental, which costs 30,000 ETB per hectare. Some of them have paid, but the rest will have to pay next time. And they borrow in a variety of ways; some take cash and repay it with barley, some take barley and repay it with cash, and the others take barley and repay it with barely. They’ve finished harvesting, but as I previously stated, because of the price rising, they’ve put the selling process on hold for the time being, since they expect it to hit up to 5,000 ETB.