We believe that working with professional farmer cooperatives is an investment in a stable, prosperous agri-sector, in the economy and in wider society. Ambitious organised farmers across the world want to develop, become entrepreneurs and business partners, add value and move up the supply chain. This has a positive impact on economic growth, poverty alleviation, inclusiveness, food and nutrition security, and climate resilience and mitigation.
We interviewed 9 ambitious farmers from Tanzania (5), Kenya (2) and Ethiopia (2) to find out if their situations have changed since becoming members of a cooperative. Each week, you can read an interview.
Gertrude Gwivaha is a young female of 28 years. Together with her 4 children she lives in Matembwe, in the Njombre region in Tanzania. She has 3 acres of maize and 1 acre of beans. She also grows spinach and other vegetables and she has 2 pigs and 5 chickens.
In 2018 Gertrude started working for Matembwe Amcos as a secretary. She saw that there were opportunities in the cooperative, such as receiving training, inputs and loans. However, this was for members only, so she decided to join the cooperative as a member.
She explains: “Before I joined the cooperative, my economic situation was average. I was able to earn income, which enabled me to breed animals and cultivate the land to a certain extent. The opportunities of receiving loans and inputs have enabled me to cultivate 3 acres of maize instead of 1 acre. And I scaled up from ¼ acre of beans to 1 acre of beans, because I receive guaranteed inputs and loans to serve my farm.”
There was another big change in the situation of Gertrude. Last year she was able to buy a plot and through the sales of produce hence she build a house. “The training helped me to increase my knowledge and to know that it is important to have a work plan for every activity that I take on. That is why I was able to set a work plan to buy a plot and build a house.” She has ambitions to own another plot, so that she can build a house to rent out. Also, she wants to scale up from 3 to 4 acres and to have 4 pigs and 20 chickens.
Gertrude is proud to be a member of the cooperative. “I have taken a very big step forward, compared to the beginning, and I believe that people can also learn from me and be persuaded to become members. I have a friend who has now been convinced to do normal work, but also focus on farming whereas she was not a farmer at all. Now she has also joined the cooperative so that she can benefit from various opportunities and have the same experience as I have.”
In the future, Gertrude wishes to hold a leadership position as a member of the Board.
“If you decide to do something within the cooperative, you can, because there are a lot of people in the cooperative who have opportunities but have not been able to do anything. I decided to do something and I have developed strategies until now. I am proud that I have been able to. Intentions and decisions will help you to achieve your goals.’’
Read also the stories of other farmers: