Exchange visit among four cooperatives
Four cooperatives met for an exchange visit last March. Each cooperative was represented by 10 persons consisting of 5 board members, 1 secretary, 1 bookkeeper, 1 representative from the youth council, 1 representative from the women’s council and 1 avocado farmer.
The total number of participants in this exchange visit was 40 including 16 women. All four cooperatives are located in Njombe, part of the Southern Highlands region of Tanzania, and are included in the EAT FRESH project
- Kidugala AMCOS
- Imalinyi AMCOS
- Matiganjola AMCOS
This cooperative commenced operations in 1993 with 354 members. Currently it consists of 548 members, including 281 women.
It was chosen to host the visiting cooperatives due to its rich success stories in members mobilisation, investment, management of its projects, explored opportunities and care for community.
Agriterra Tanzania is pride of this cooperative for putting into actions some advice concerning recapitalisation of the input shop which was empty and establishing four acres of avocado farm plot for demonstration and income generating purposes.
Now, the input shop sells to farmers various agricultural products including HAKIKA organic fertilizer for avocado trees. This fertilizer is produced by GUAVAY company, a partner in the EAT FRESH project.
The purpose of this exchange visit was to let members of different cooperatives learn and share success stories as well as challenges amongst themselves.
Tree forest- project
- 428 acres of pine trees
- Source of funds for input shop capitalisation and support in the community
- Source of funds in other investments
Tree seedlings in Matembwe AMCOS
Avocado farm project
- 380 avocado seedlings planted on 4 acres in January 2022
- Rare investment spirit as compared to many other cooperatives in the region
- Hakika fertilizer applied with guidance from GUAVAY officer
Input shop project
- The shop was recapitalised in August 2021 by TZS 10 million
- Commodities include fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, seeds, gumboots and HAKIKA products
- Price difference between AMCOS and other traders is between TZS 15,000 and 20,000
Outside Matembwe input shop
Collective selling of avocado
- 65 farmers, among them 35 members, delivered 7,790.3 Kg of avocado to GBRI solution
- The price was TZS 1,500 per Kg
- This is the first time AMCOS organised collective selling of avocado
Tree nursery of pine seedlings
- A nursery belongs to Matembwe youth council that consists of 16 members
- It is for demonstration and income earning purposes
- They started with 2000 seedlings, now there are only 600 seedlings due to mismanagement.
Plots of land in Makambako business center
- 2 plots worth TZS 25,000,000 in Makambako
- It is a long-term investment not yet developed
- The intention is to construct a warehouse and grain processing factory
Presentations by visiting cooperatives
- Collective selling of 13,286 Kg of avocado from 110 farmers including 65 members.
- 7 beehive projects of youth council with 6 members. Expecting honey from 5 beehives in May
- Supply of 400 bags of fertilizer to farmers in 2021/2022. Loan fund from IRINGA HOPE organisation
- Collective selling of 2,733.2 Kg of avocado from 35 farmers including 13 members.
- ½ acre of beans, a project from the youth council with 17 members
- 87/140 members fully paid their 10 shares each costing TZS 10,000
- 4/7 board members at times contributed TZS 10.5 million for warehouse construction.
Key take aways
- Like any other successful business firm, a cooperative can also mobilise funds, undertake long term investments and operate profitable projects, the example of Matembwe AMCOS and its projects
- Apart from profitable projects, cooperatives are supposed to support what the farmer members are doing the most to earn income, the example of avocado farmers delivering 7 tons in one day.
- Youths organised within cooperatives can create a forum to involve more youths to join the cooperatives and later take over for the older generation.
Youth presenting action plan developed by Matembwe team after plenary discussion
- Cooperatives can explore business opportunities and serve members in farmers’ production activities, the example of avocado production.
- It is the first time in the district and region that farmers are selling avocado collectively through their own cooperative.
- Youths organised within cooperatives can also visualise and create economic projects for demonstration and income earning, the example of clay soil beehives.
- Cooperatives can build up internal capital by constantly urging members to fully pay up their Shares, the case of Matiganjola with over 50% members with fully paid up shares.
- Source of capital (loan or grant) can also be from within, the case of board members lending to their own cooperative.
- People in cooperative leadership should always defend the rights and property of their members, the example of a secured land ownership certificate.
- Again, cooperatives should study available opportunities surrounding its locality particularly those involving members directly, the example of the first collective selling of avocado.
- Cooperatives can attract youths to join and participate in cooperative activities by allowing them to plan and engage in their desired and relevant activities
- It takes time to win youths in cooperatives, with effort and the right strategies the cooperatives can win new youths.