Perspectives Volume 40, Number 1 | Page 20

Cluster by Cluster Bako John is a member of the Pampaida Chile Pepper Cluster in Ikara LGA, Kaduna state. He has worked as a farmer for nearly 20 years. John cultivates chili pepper, maize, sorghum and soybeans. He claims that chili pepper is becoming his strongest crop. Good agronomic practices and favorable market forces have enabled bountiful returns. Since 2012, when John joined the chili pepper cluster to enhance his productivity and market network, he has benefited from a series of agronomic and business trainings delivered by IFDC through the 2SCALE project. In addition to the trainings, 2SCALE linked John and all other members of the cluster to AACE Foods, a spice processing company, providing a guaranteed market. In April 2014, John was selected along with 99 other farmers from the cluster to receive a loan from LAPO micro-finance bank. Each of the 40 cooperatives in the cluster developed the criteria used in the selection of the farmers who received the loan. “I appreciated the loan I received because it helped me to purchase the right input at the right time,” John stated. This boosted his productivity during the season, enabling him to repay his loan. AACE Foods helped the farmers pay their loans. In return for receiving chili peppers from the farmers, the company helped repay the cluster’s loan over a period of eight months to LAPO. According to Aliyu Habila, chairman of the cluster, “The repayment structure is client-friendly, and this made the terms acceptable.” He further stated that some of the members had already completed the direct repayment process to LAPO micro-finance bank. The trainings on good agronomic practices, access to credit facility, access to quality inputs and, most importantly, the availability of a guaranteed market increased the farmers’ production, lowering their risks. Affirming this, John observed that, despite his field flooding in 2014, he was still able to harvest a bumper yield of 540 kilograms of chili pepper – a feat not easily possible without the help of 2SCALE. IFDC Magazine 20