Nelly Bassily | October 29, 2012
United we stand, divided we fall. By getting together, people can create a situation where they have more power, and opportunities arise. In this article, several issues are raised. As broadcasters, you have an opportunity to explore any or all of them. For a basic introduction to farmers’ co-operatives, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_cooperative
You can also revisit a recent Notes to broadcasters on co-operatives: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/06/11/notes-to-broadcasters-on-co-operatives-3/
For the recent World Food Day on October 16, the United Nations highlighted the role that agricultural co-operatives can play in strengthening farmers’ hand. A short sound bite is available at http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2012/10/world-food-day-highlights-role-of-agricultural-cooperatives-in-fighting-hunger/
The four benefits of co-operatives raised in this story are resource pooling, the economy of scale, selling power, and micro-loans. Information on these topics can be found through the following links:
A report from Ethiopia states that agricultural co-operatives support small-scale farmers and marginalized groups such as young people and women through pooling their resources: http://allafrica.com/stories/201210190202.html
Co-operatives have also proven to be an effective vehicle for social inclusion, promoting gender equality and encouraging the involvement of youth in agriculture: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?Cr=hunger&Cr1=&NewsID=43299#.UIU_74aLiSo
Small-scale farmers have poor access to markets to sell their products, a lack of bargaining power to buy inputs at better prices, and a lack of access to financial services. Agricultural co-operatives can help small-scale farmers overcome these constraints: http://www.netnewspublisher.com/agricultural-cooperatives-could-expand-and-make-an-even-greater-contribution-against-poverty-and-hunger/
The potential economic benefits of sustainable microfinance are compelling, and its potential effects on the development process cannot be overstated. While organizations such as KIVA (http://www.kiva.org/) encourage individuals to make small loans to small-scale entrepreneurs, a collective can take the initiative to act as a lending bank for its own members. Studies have shown that micro-finance plays three broad roles in development: it helps very poor households meet basic needs and protects against risks; it is associated with improvements in household economic welfare; and it helps to empower women by supporting women’s economic participation and thus promoting gender equity. For example, a study of the micro-finance situation in Ghana can be found here: http://economicswebinstitute.org/essays/microfinanceghana.htm
This subject of this week’s story has been addressed by FRW before. The story of Pope Mokhtar Diallo, from Senegal, shows the power of farmers’ groups to stem the tide of urban drift (FRW 212, August 2012) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/13/senegal-agricultural-co-operative-encourages-youth-to-stay-in-village-ips/
This script focuses on the potential benefits of agricultural co-ops. It can be found at http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/01/10/%E2%80%98together-we-stand%E2%80%99-agricultural-co-operative-society/
Script package 94 contains fifteen scripts and an issue pack on co-operatives. The issue pack gives examples of co-operatives, background information on co-operatives, production ideas for programming on co-operatives, and further resources on co-operatives – organizations, audio files, print documents, and a video. You can find package 94 at http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/
For earlier scripts on co-operatives, go to: http://www.farmradio.org/script-categories/cooperatives/
Do farmers in your area work together to obtain better market prices for their products, or purchase inputs as a co-operative? You may wish to find a farmers’ group and prepare a news story or arrange an on-air interview which profiles the group and their efforts.
-Who are the members of this group? Are they grouped by area, the type of crop they produce, etc.?
-When did they come together? What were individual farmers’ experiences with processing and selling their crop prior to forming the group?
-Ask the members to describe in detail the procedures they use to process their goods, identify markets for their crops, gather them together, and sell them. Did they try other methods before determining that one method worked best?
-How much extra income do farmers earn as a result of group marketing, group processing, or group purchase of inputs? What are the other benefits of working together as a group (saving time, learning from each other, etc.)?