Women Farmers in Nepal to Go Digital thanks to Jersey Overseas Aid
Women farmers in the remote West of Nepal will be better equipped to benefit from digital finance technologies thanks to a new project that will empower them with the tools they need to succeed. The £1.2m project, called Empowering women farmers with Digital finance, was launched in July 2022 and is being implemented by Practical Action with funding provided by Jersey Overseas Aid(JOA).
In Nepal, there are more women farmers than men. 70% of smallholder farmers are women, and this is because of the culture that has evolved. Women are encouraged to be independent and to be able to take care of themselves and their families. They are required to work hard, which makes them willing to work on farms and become farmers. They are also more likely to be involved in farming because they do not have access to education or jobs.
The Banks in Nepal are required to invest 15% of their loan services in agriculture. More here. However, small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and commercial farms are the primary beneficiaries and are largely inaccessible to women smallholder farmers. Since 2021 there has been an improved physical bank presence in 99% of the municipal wards in Nepal, with 67% of the population having at least one account. However, two-thirds of account holders were male. Women’s access remains inadequate, especially in rural areas, and gender bias exists in all provinces and local levels.
This new project aims to remove these barriers and reduce poverty among women in Dang, Rolpa and Rulka, all in the Lumbini province. Over the next three years, the project will provide women and farmers easy access to loans, agricultural insurance, banking through digital wallets, online trading and other programs that help women become familiar with the benefits of digital technology.
Menila Kharel, Practical Action thematic lead for Farming that works, said “This innovative, forward-looking project is bringing digital technology to those who need it most in Nepal. Ultimately, we aim to empower women with increased decision-making ability, facilitating an environment where men support women to access finance and engage in income generation through agriculture and enterprises.”
Practical Action has been working in the Lumbini Province to improve farmer incomes through modern and improved farming since January 2022. This new project will support that by making digital financial services inclusive and accessible to poor and marginalized women farmers.
The project, when completed, will:
• Increase the capacity of 5,500 women to access reliable finance to support their farms
• Improve the capacity of 80 women with skills and knowledge so that they can train other women in digital financial skills
• Support the most vulnerable women in the group with 1,600 mobile phones so that they can access digital financial services.
• Establish and strengthen the relationship between women farmers and financial institutions in Nepal, thereby making it easy for them to access loans
• Debunk harmful social norms that define gender roles for women. These roles make it difficult to obtain government identity papers, thereby impeding women’s access to financial services.
• Provide women with a digital wallet or mobile bank account that allows them to trade and receive information via their phones
• Increase women’s voice in financial decision-making by helping them to register for required government papers, providing them with numeracy and digital skills and ultimately access to financial services