By Amos Batisayi
The Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) has established a collective society (Farmers in Action) aimed at empowering smallholder farmers, young women and men in Gokwe South. This came as a result of trying to foster sustainability and continuity of the Agriculture Business Centre as a social enterprise, the cooperative has its roots in the producer groups and the commodity associations.
The establishment of the cooperative is premised on the need for farmers to produce and market their products together for profitability and sustainability.
The Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) is spearheading the development of formal farmer groupings. The rationale behind the establishment of this Cooperative is to sustain the livelihoods of rural communities in Gokwe South through agriculture practices such as horticulture, poultry and production of drought resistant crops (small grains).
How was the Cooperative Formed?
Small holder farmers in the district grouped into various producer groups, these producer groups were further trained into commodity associations according to geographical locations and the types of value chains they produce.
Before the cooperative was formed, The Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) engaged Business and Cooperative Officer responsible for cooperative business from the Ministry of Woman Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development to carry out trainings to the small holder farmers that would make up the Cooperative. The trainings covered modules such cooperative concepts and principles, Commodity Association constitution and the importance of collective marketing among other issues.
Benefits of having the cooperative
Farmers in Action Collective Society will play a significant role in improving the livelihoods of Gokwe South rural communities as it will help aggregate their resources in order to reach a common goal, which would have been difficult for them to achieve as individuals. Strengthening of bargaining powers will also improve.
The Small holder farmers will have huge opportunities and a wide range of services, such as improved access to markets, information, credit lines, trainings and warehouses. As such, they can easily obtain the much needed products and services on competitive basis, whilst at the same time they improve income opportunities, reduce costs and manage risks of the small holder farmers.
The Cooperative will play an important role in supporting small agricultural producers and marginalized groups. It will empower small holder farmers economically, socially and create sustainable rural employment through business models that are resilient to economic and environmental shocks.
The cooperative, will make it easy for farmers to negotiate better terms for engagement in contract farming and lower prices for agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and equipment. Through this initiative, smallholder farmers will secure their livelihoods and play a greater role in meeting the growing demand for food on local, national and international markets, thus contributing to poverty alleviation, food security and the eradication of hunger.
There is great excitement in Gokwe South among farmers whom are producing and working with ABC Social Enterprise, small holder farmers are excited to be part of this great initiative.