Microfinancing of rural mechanisms: Microcredits to small-scale farmers Prof. Dr.

Willem Van Cotthem University of Ghent (Belgium) Microcredits can be used in many different ways, not only to alleviate poverty, but also to combat hunger, child malnutrition and health problems. The improvement of women's access to financial services and its indirect positive effects on children's school enrolment and health care is one very important aspect of improving the living conditions of poor populations. It has been clearly shown that people, and particularly women in rural areas, are still often excluded from the micro-financing services. Microcrediting is generally seen as an efficient tool for "introducing poor populations to market mechanisms and activities, of which they often have little knowledge ", helping mostly to improve the lives of the urban poor. Fully agreeing with Mr. Joseph DEISS, the President of the UN General Assembly (see my former posting), that "we should draw lessons from the experience gained thus far so as to take better advantage of the potential of microfinance ", I would like to suggest that substantial efforts should be produced to enhance microfinancing of rural mechanisms. Mr. Deiss said that: [ ] we should now take steps to give effect to the idea of inclusive finance, thus ensuring that the financial sector promotes the creation of jobs and productive activities and is thus placed at the service of the poorest, and of society as a whole " If indeed the financial sector is to promote the creation of jobs and productive activities, being placed at the service of the poorest, it is obvious that this "new concept of microfinancing" should primarily focus on enhancing the possibilities for smallholder farmers to improve their productivity. Microcredits to small-scale farmers and to gardening women, e.g. those working in community gardens, will not only be an optimal platform for combating hunger, child malnutrition, health problems and poverty, but also be profitable for society as a whole.

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