The Boulder-Bergamo Forum on access to financial services in rural areas was held in Italy from 18 to 20 September 2008. Cyril Fouillet, CERM, Isabelle Guerin, IRD, and Solene Morvant-Roux, FARM, propose a written account.
The forum on financial services in rural areas and for agriculture held recently in Italy brought together researchers, people who work in the sector and political decision makers, following the example of the FAO conference of March 2007 or the FARM foundation’s conference last December in Paris1. One of this forum’s major partners was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation’s goal in providing this support was to encourage dialogue and make progress in implementing a strategy to be agreed upon by the different groups involved (researchers, decision makers and people from the field) to collect important data systematically in order to assist research work in the field of rural finance and agricultural financing.
The speakers were selected by personal invitation rather than by a call for proposals. There was a poster session to provide information in addition to the speeches. The major names in the English-speaking rural finance field were present ; researchers from Ohio State University (Rural Finance Program) were particularly well-represented. There were few important figures from the South, which was under-represented.
All the contributions, notes taken during discussions and questions asked by the audience are available on the conference’s wiki site :
The point of this update is not to summarise the complete contents of every discussion but rather to note the major thoughts and questions raised. In comparison with the FARM conference held eight months earlier (December 2007), we can see that some ideas were not broached at all (farming community organisations, fair trade), while others were touched upon as background ideas (particularly the question of public policies). However, three themes came up regularly : the problem of climate change, research methods and lastly new information technologies.