The Role Of Agriculture Cooperative Societies In Food Production

Project and Seminar Material for Agricultural Economics and Extension

The Role Of Agriculture Cooperative Societies In Food Production


Modern form of Co-operative leaves their origin in the tension and opportunities created by industrialization and urbanization in the nineteenth Century in Europe. Much of the early interested in co-operative structure seemed from deep regards to the social consequence of industrial capitalism, critics of the new order not simply a framework for business organisation but also as a vehicle for the reutilization of radical social and political goals. However, much concepts of c-operative have been erased the claims of earlier social prophets, a residual belief remains that co-operators are motivated by group interest as well as self interest, and that non-economic as well as economic objectives may be pursued.

Other of these propositions present difficulties through not inseparable one’s in terms of applying economic analysis to the study of applying economic analysis to the study of Co-operatives, it is pertinently imperative and a restrictive device of immense capacity that co-operative organizations have paid the way for the new economic and social order not only for those, ‘depressed’ in the economy who (mostly of less privileged) are at the receiving end, the logical and social justice, which they embody, but in our ability to translate them concretely and realistically from social theory into social fact and to make them effective in our daily live.

We must always remember that co-operative are organizations of by and for members therefore they are designed to respond to the needs of members. Agricultural Co-operative has created for the economic charge, for increasing in food produce, for building a better or a more just and equitable society. They serve to give individuals through voluntary co-operation and mutual assistance, control or bit of their destiny to make people in some way asters of their own fate, subjects and not objects of their history. Co-operatives are of course pragmatic institution noted in reality of concerts goals.

Chapter One


1.1 Background and Overview of the Study

Globally, national governments, international development agencies and policy makers in the field of agriculture see co-operatives as an important tool for enhancing food security and as a significant tool for the development of the human well-being (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, 2008:74). As a result co- operatives have become key in development projects and goals that are aimed at alleviating poverty. More specifically, agricultural co-operatives play an important role in food production, distribution and in supporting long-term food security. Co-operatives can create productive employment, raise income and help to reduce poverty. Some agricultural co-operatives improve farm productivity by obtaining inputs at low cost, encouraging sustainable farming techniques and developing members’ management and organisational skills (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, 2008:76).

Statistics Nigeria (StatsSA, 2003: 34) has shown that food insecurity is not an exceptional, or a “short-term event” but is rather a continuous threat for more than a third of the population (Ndlovu 2013: 8). The contributing factor to this situation might be that the vast majority of Nigeria ns buy their staple food from commercial suppliers, rather than grow it themselves and are therefore dependent on having direct or indirect access to cash (Ndlovu, 2013:8). Hendrick (2012:86) propounds that food insecurity is no longer seen as a failure of food production at national level but as a livelihood failure offoodproductionatthenationallevelasevidencedbytheinclusionoffoodsecurityaone outcome of sustainable livelihoods (Department of international Development cited in Manyama et al ,2012:2) .
Possible shocks and stresses to household food security in Nigeria are likely to impact negatively on a large proportion of households already facing vulnerability to food insecurity, increasing hunger and malnutrition. For most of the households, inadequate and unstable food supplies, lack of purchasing power, weak institutional support networks, poor nutrition, inadequate safety nets, weak food emergency management systems and unemployment are some of the ways in which households get trapped in a cycle of food insecurity and poverty (Manyama et al, 2012:7). Aliber (2001) as cited in Manyama et al (2012:7) states that, “groups most vulnerable to food insecurity in Nigeria are the rural poor, female headed households, disabled, elderly, retrenched or evicted farm workers, AIDS orphans and households with HIV sufferers, cross border migrants and the homeless”.

Co-operatives are solidarity organisations and are defined as ‘ a non-profit organization comprising persons with objectives of collectively achieving a goal whereby each member has a vote in the selection of management and proportional in benefits occurring from the association’s activities’’ (Centner, 1998: 96). The International Cooperative Alliance defines cooperatives “as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, cultural need and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise’’ (Ortman and King, 2007:19). On the same note, agricultural cooperatives also promote economic production and help in food production and rural development. Smallholder farmers are able to increase their productivity and income by collectively negotiating better prices for needs like fertilizer, seeds, transport and storage through cooperatives. They can also help farmers expand access to markets and capture more of the value chain, for example by getting involved in value adding or agro-processing activities (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 2012:9).

Agricultural co-operatives facilitate the availability of transport which can provide access to the market, provide effective means of communication, and offer training and conduct workshops (Meyer et al., 2009:56). All these enable the cooperatives to get their goods and services to the market in a secure and timely manner. This means that service delivery and technology transfer done by the cooperatives reduces poverty and increases agricultural production (Li and Liu, 2009: 48).

According to Fredrick et al., (2008: 56), cooperatives, mainly in the agricultural sector, have long been recognised to play an important role in society that translates into the improvement of living conditions of their members. Being voluntary, democratic and self-controlled business associations, cooperatives offer the institutional framework through which local communities gain control over productive activities from which they derive their livelihoods (Stefanson and Fulton, 1997: 24). In the agricultural sector, cooperatives contribute to food production and distribution and in supporting long-term food security.

Co-operatives also help in tackling rural poverty by increasing the productivity and income of smallholder farmers thereby helping them to collectively negotiate better prices for seeds, fertilizer, transport and storage. They further help farmers expand market access and capture more of the value chain by getting involved in agro- processing activities (Li and Liu, 2009: 66).In Nigeria , during the apartheid era the co-operative sector started with the establishment of the predominantly white agricultural co-operatives, aimed at developing and building the white farming communities (Li and Liu, 2009).

Verena, and Bijman (2014: 176) noted that, while the co-operatives that the apartheid government built were flawed in many ways and were racially discriminatory, they nevertheless illustrated the crucial role co-operatives can play in reducing costs and risk for farmers, in mobilizing economies of scale and in promoting market access. These co-operatives eventually developed into powerful business ventures, which controlled agricultural production, marketing and processing in rural areas (Chimbgndah, 1981:18).

According to Fredrick et al (2008: 124), Nigeria faces a wide spectrum of food security challenges conceptually ranging from national-level to household issues. At the national level, the challenges undermining Nigeria ’s ability to achieve food security are inadequate safety nets and weak disaster management systems. These challenges have implications for vulnerable households, in addition to a range of other household level challenges. Stats SA (2012) indicates that despite the large decline in the vulnerability to hunger of Nigeria n households over the past decade up to 2011, a large percentage of households (23.8%) continue to experience difficulty in accessing food.

There are 106 cooperatives in the east and 51 of these cooperatives are undertaking crop production (Department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries 2010/11:12).The greatest number of cooperatives is involved in mixed farming which illustrates the lack of assistance and advice to smallholder farmers by the government to venture into specialized agricultural venture. It is also argued that the lack of access to reliable markets by the agricultural cooperatives is the main reason why most cooperatives focus on mixed farming. One of the key factors that are hindering progress in the agricultural cooperatives in the east is the lack of capacity building. According to the Baseline study conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2009, lack of business and technical skills in agricultural cooperatives are some of the chief causes of underperformance or failures. Majority of the agricultural cooperative members are elderly people who in most cases have little or no education at all. “The bulk of cooperative managers are those with at least secondary education viz. between Grade 8 and Grade 12”. The lack of opportunities to agro- processing and access to markets is also on3ev of the limiting factors. The cooperatives are able to secure viable markets due to small volumes and poor quality of produce (Department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries2010/11:14).

1.2 Problem Statement

While positive strides have been made in transforming the state of food security in Nigeria , the country still faces a lot of challenges especially at community level.

The major problem of this study rests on the fact that despite the government interventions in agricultural co-operatives, most of the villagers cannot afford adequate food in their households and the food insecurity phenomenon is still continuing. Key among the affected are villages in Enugu in the east of Nigeria.

The government’s assistance to agricultural co-operatives is missing the point in that it does not cover all the required resources by village farmers. Most of the village farmers in Enugu municipality lack adequate funds, proper marketing places, transport, sufficient skills and infrastructure to carry out their agricultural activities effectively.

The majority of the farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture which is not sustainable since they have to wait for the rain season to carry out their farming activities. This situation results in the increase of food shortages in households. As the inadequacy of State support continues to jeopardize even household livelihoods, most of the people cannot afford three meals a day. This violates the right of the people to basic needs and sustainable measures to enhance adequate food. Enugu Municipality is one of the impoverished regions in Nigeria and poverty in this east is linked directly to the historical economic neglect and discrimination (Stats SA, 2003a). Poverty in this area is a rural phenomenon and cooperatives were put in place to promote food security. These cooperatives are expected to play a fundamental role in reducing poverty. Therefore, the major question for this study is whether the assistance that is being given to agricultural co-operatives is adequate for them to achieve food security?

1.3 Research Objectives

The major objective of this study is to assess the effectiveness of agricultural co- operatives in enhancing food security in the east of Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Examine the prospects and constraints faced by the agricultural co-operatives in Enugu;
  2. Analyse the extent to which the agricultural co-operatives contribute to household livelihoods in Enugu;
  3. Identify a more comprehensive agricultural co-operative framework so as to enhance food security in Enugu.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the level of operation of agricultural cooperatives in Enugu, Nigeria.
  2. What are the various cooperatives available in Nigeria.
  3. To what extent have these cooperatives gone in food production in Nigeria
  4. What is the contribution of these cooperatives to agricultural development in Nigeria.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study will contribute to knowledge and policy development in the field of Development Studies. It provides insight and adds to the debates on the role of agricultural co-operatives in ensuring food security in the eastwith specific reference to Enugu Municipality. It will also improve our understanding of what happens when the State inadequately meets citizens’ needs. The study will also explain in detail the role played by co-operatives in alleviating poverty through promoting food security. In Nigeria and many other developing countries, food security is a concern among poor households, particularly in the rural areas. Although Nigeria is considered to food self-sufficient, a significant number of households may be considered to be poor and therefore, food insecure (Kuzwayo, 1997:3).

The study will therefore bring new insights that add to existing empirical studies on the role of co-operatives in promoting food security. Furthermore, the study will be of benefit to government officers, co-operatives and researchers who are involved in the debates and work on food security. Many researches on food security in east mainly focus on the Expanded Public Work Programs (EPWP) and Reconstruction and Development Programe (RDP) among others. However this study took a different step by paying attention to the Agricultural co-operatives in Enugu Municipality with specific reference to the ones in Alice.

1.6. Delimitation of the study

The study focused on sustainable livelihoods approach as is there is need for sustainable agricultural cooperatives. Hence, there is need to borrow elements of Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) so as to empower agricultural cooperatives and thus achieve the goals of food security. In addition, the study focused on the constraints experienced by horticultural cooperatives members in Enugu Local Municipality, the support from government and extension officers as well as the role they play. All in all the study is conceptually limited to food security and poverty in the east of Nigeria .

1.7 Scope of study


1.8 Organization of the study.

This study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one of the dissertation deals with the general description of the study, the definition of the problem, the research question, the objectives of the research and the importance of the study. Chapter 2 presents all the relevant bibliographical research on waste management and related concepts.

Chapter 3 deals with the identification of the most appropriate research methodology for this research, and Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the data of the lessons learned in this field. Finally, Chapter Five summarizes the findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The agricultural cooperatives in Enugu Municipality are not contributing to food security due to a number of challenges for example lack of transport, funds, poor soils, and the unavailability of irrigation equipment among others. Such challenges are a threat to the sustainability and continuity of the cooperatives. The government assistance to agricultural co-operatives is deficient since it does not cover all the resources required by village farmers. The study has shown that most of the agricultural co-operatives farmers in Enugu municipality lack adequate funds, proper marketing places, transport, sufficient skills and infrastructure to carry out their agricultural activities effectively. As such these challenges hinder the cooperatives to provide enough so that the basic needs and essential services of the local people can bemet.

According to the basic needs approach, for poverty to be alleviated and human development enhanced people should secure access to minimum level of consumption of certain basic goods and services such as: shelter provision, food, clothing, access to sanitation and clean water (McGregor, 1981:5 Max-Neef, 1987:13). The basic needs approach mainly focuses on the importance of poverty eradication as one of the most objective the community development should focus on, and also the poor people being However the aforementioned challenges inhibits the agricultural cooperatives from guaranteeing the availability and accessibility of food at all times by Enugu residents the major participants in their own development activities (Max-Neef, 1987).Agricultural cooperatives in Enugu Municipality provide limited avenues for the participation and ownership of the projects by the poor. The study has shown that the majority of the farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture which is not sustainable since they have to wait for the rain season to carry out their farming activities. This situation compromises the agricultural cooperatives’ potential to contribute to food security especially during the dry season.

One of the theories that guide this study ‘the sustainable livelihoods approach’ provides a crucial understanding of agriculture as an important basis for the sustainability of food security intervention. This theory has been used to understand the reasons behind the challenges faced by the agricultural co-operatives.

The literature reflected that co-operatives contribute significantly to the national economic development of many countries around the world. They are some of the institutions that play a crucial role in maintaining and creating new jobs and thus securing family incomes. In Africa co-operatives are found to be major contributors of GDPs particularly in countries like Kenya and Tanzania. Most African governments found co-operatives useful and acknowledged that they should be liberalized and function without much of state control (Wanyama et al., 2008:4). Moreover agricultural co-operatives enable farmers to pool limited resources together for the members’ benefits. Agricultural-based co-operatives account for a significant part of agricultural production in Africa. They promote an exchange economy by helping develop markets in remote rural areas (Wanyama et al., 2008:4).This positive outlook of cooperatives from Africa and the world over as the engine of growth and development is not the same as what is manifesting in cooperatives in Enugu Municipality. Rather the cooperatives are failing to contribute to food security and are registering meagre production outcomes as a result of some bedeviling and delimiting factors such as lack of agricultural equipment, reliance on rainfall which is erratic, lack of arable fertile land among others.

5.2 Recommendations

Co-operatives basically have an ethical basis grounded in the idea of self and collective empowerment, which is an important tradition of learning from experience and practice that would also have to be passed on to generations (Satgar,2007: 20). Generally cooperatives are found to be playing an important role in the development of rural communities through among others helping to increase food availability in the households. However cooperatives in Enugu Municipality are blighted by a myriad of challenges that are preventing them from performing this role (contributing to food security). In this regard the study suggested the way forward that can be taken to equip these co-operatives so that they can contribute to food security.

Agricultural co-operatives in Enugu have limited access to the market, the products they produce are being sold exclusively to the local community, there is lack of transport to sell their product outside their communities, and they use wheelbarrows to sell their products. In order to sell their products profitably those products must be of good and acceptable quality so that there are able to compete with others on the market. However, it is difficult for cooperatives in Enugu Municipality to produce quality products because they do not have control over resources such as water and land and are also plagued by the aforementioned challenges. This literally shows that the co-operatives are not well funded and supported hence the study recommends that the government should create a lending institution particularly for co-operatives as the Tanzanian government did. The Tanzanian government created the Savings and Credit Cooperatives Societies (SACCOS) in the 1980s as a mechanism of promoting access to financial services to poor rural people who are not assisted by formal financial institutions (Triodos Facet,2011).

The literature has shown that the development of co-operatives in east is undermined by lack of skills among practitioners which is also inhibiting productivity and causing food insecurity. The study suggests that it would be necessary especially for the government to further strengthen the co-operatives through offering training programmes. These programmes will offer training and develop skills, organise workshops facilitated by academic institutions such as the Department of Agricultural and Rural Development Research institute (ARDRI) at the University of Fort Hare and Fort Cox Agricultural College, NGOs and agricultural extension officers. Such efforts will ensure that these cooperatives enhance the participation of people in planning their livelihood intervention options and also that the development is people-centered thereby raising the human capital status of households which is consistent with the Sustainable Livelihood theoretical framework.

The study has shown that co-operatives in Enugu normally rely on seasonal rainfall for their agricultural activities. This obviously means that the production is not guaranteed all year round hence there is food insecurity. This is one of the major constraints faced by the co-operatives. The Sustainable Livelihood Approach pinpoints the availability of natural and physical capital such as land, water, air, biological resources, livestock, irrigation canals, buildings and environmental services as crucial for constructing livelihoods. In this regard, the study suggests that the government or the municipality should build sustainable water sources like dams as well as provide taps in the community to boost productivity all year round in the agricultural cooperatives hence guaranteeing food security.

The other challenge that is preventing the agricultural co-operatives in Enugu from contributing to food security is the market problem as most of the emerging co-operatives attempt to utilize community demand as a basis for development. However, this might not always be sustainable hence co-operatives have to find other channels to promote their products. Consequently, the important marketing channel for co-operatives is to establish co-operative stores as part of consumer co- operatives, in town and city centres, to support producer co-operatives. An effective market will ensure that the producers will gain good profits and hence will be able to meet a wide array of basic needs chief among them food security. A good market will also ensure that the agricultural cooperatives are self-supportive and that there is continuity and sustainability (SLA).Profitability of the agricultural cooperatives is criticalin making sure that production does not become for consumption per se as critics of the Basic Needs Approach points out but rather contributes to local economic development. According to Satgar (2007), co-operative development is intra-governmental coordination hence the emergence of various government linked institutions to support co-operative development and policy trust in departments all constitute strength of the emerging government support system. However, these contributions need to be brought together in a synergistic way to strengthen learning from policy practice and should be institutionalized. In this regard the new co-operative Act (2005) provides for a national Co-operatives advisory board to be established to make recommendations on policy, strategy development challenges and other important issues related to co-operative development. From this point, the government needs to establish monitoring and evaluation strategies that will mitigate corruption, evaluate the developments as well as promote accountability.

Finally the study noted that it is important to enhance the multi class appeal of co- operatives and to ensure that co-operatives are able to attract people with different kinds of skills. In this regard, It is recommended that tertiary academic institutions should consider developing special degrees for co-operative managers, encouraging research and journals publications on co-operatives, developing text books and promoting the co-operative idea as part of development education. Also the curriculum in schools needs to provide for an understanding of the co-operative model and its role in development and empowerment.

More so, in terms of skills development, there is need for a national co-operative college in Nigeria which should be set up to train co-operators, government officials, NGOs, and so on about co-operative practice. Such a college could also run specialized and advanced training courses for co-operative cadres that might want to specialize in particular areas of co-operative work. Building the human capital base is a crucial instrument through which the Sustainable Livelihood Approach proposes to build and enhance people’s capabilities to enable them to have sustainable livelihoods and meet their basic needs.

The researcher made certain recommendation one of which was that a sustainable livelihood framework be adopted in order to ensure that agricultural cooperatives are funded and provided with the necessary assets such that they become a sustainable source of livelihoods and a provider of basic needs for Enugu residents in particular and Nigeria at large. This success hinges on the principles advocated for by the approach which ensures that poverty is tacked from its all angles of deprivation. Besides the need for support from NGOs, government and the private sectors, members of cooperatives in Enugu Municipality should be proactive by becoming planners, initiators and executors of local development in order for any transformation to occur. The community have to change their behaviour and attitudes, be willing to accept change and to take ownership of the project.

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