On Saturday 1st July 2023 earmarked the 101 Ushirika Day celebration by Cooperatives with the theme Partners for Accelerated Sustainable Development. The key objective was to increase awareness of the role cooperatives play in society and their contributions to resolving the major problems that confront us.
Chairman of the Ushirika Council, Mr. Macloud Malonza, in his speech applauded that Cooperatives are vehicles of collaborative partnership and prosperity and contribute to economic, social, and environmental sustainability across regions and economic sectors.
He also articulated that they have been and continue to nurture and safeguard community relations, advocate social responsibility and enhance mutual benefit sharing
As a key anchor to development, today the Cooperatives have over 14 million Kenyans spread in 26,948 Cooperatives, in all sectors.
Kenyans urged to Plant trees;
Forecasting future climate change interventions, there is a need for the restructuring of our environmental landscape across various sectors. We are all obligated to make our environment safe and better to live in regardless of owning a piece of land.
Everyone loves the tranquility that comes with clean and productive land. Here is good news from the President of the Republic of Kenya, “Plant trees now. It is the future of investment and is key to restoring our environment. People will be paid for owning trees on their farms, unlike the past where one would be paid for harvesting.” He added that “When I will be receiving my share, don’t say I didn’t inform early.”
This was an indirect snapshot of the role of trees in cutting down carbon emissions from which agriculture contributes around 23%. As one of FSPN Africa’s projects, we continue to empower farmers on best farming practices that help in carbon sinking to lower greenhouse effects that lower food production.
Among the trees suggested were the fruit trees such as oranges, avocadoes and mangoes with multiple turnovers. Such trees are perennial sources of food and surplus from it generates income that can help end malnutrition and alleviate poverty.
Cooperatives need collaboration
Cooperatives have different strengths that can be harnessed to benefit the sector without watering down their competitive edge. The room for millions of Kenyans joining cooperatives continues to open as realization spreads. Today, technology is crucial in the delivery of financial services. It has increased accessibility to financial services and reduced the cost of delivering them.
Offering services directly related to the catchment areas’ economic activity and aspirations can increase the number of cooperators joining the membership. For instance, in milk zone areas, milk cooperatives can thrive tenfold while helping the cooperators achieve their economic power and development milestones such as paying school fees for their children, expansion of farming and food security sustainability.
Cooperatives can collaborate to do mega projects, especially at the National level and even this could be the stepping stone demonstration for gaining international milestones, a hint that the President unveiled.
Credits for production and aggregation
Climate change addressing is to offset the challenges of environmental degradation and more especially address the prevailing poverty and food insecurity.
At FSPN Africa we empower smallholder farmers to form groups that can aggregate to form cooperatives or better still pool to join existing ones. From such, they can get a financial muscle to grow and diversify their income avenues
Cooperatives serve as self-help organizations that meaningfully operate to augment the socioeconomic status of the members and communities around them at large. They contribute to around 43% of the national GDP
Farmers who are not members of cooperatives resort to hawking their products or selling at small capacities to meet their needs or missing market opportunities. These sales are not sustainable. For instance, selling to middlemen looks lucrative momentarily but a farmer has nothing to look forward to in terms of savings or bonuses from them.
Joining cooperatives significantly improves the quality of life and gives members such farming communities a voice in the supply chains.
The president mentioned in his speech that room for middlemen is under a grace period and it’s high time we will be meeting at County Industrial parks for transactions. Farmers have been suffering immensely due to a lack of standards of measurement nor record of business done hence not easy to count if they made a profit or not. Definitely most-time it’s not. They stagnate despite a bumper harvest.
The rush sometimes is due to a lack of early search for markets, especially for horticulture and other highly perishable produce or inadequate storage facilities and preservation skills.
This initiative is set to bolster farmers from losses. The industrial park will be constructed in each county to boost innovation and boost agriculture supply chains. They will have store rooms, cold storage facilities, and value addition sectors. The first phase will be in 14 counties by the close of one year and this project will be managed by cooperatives jointly in partnership with the government.
Regions endowed with horticulture will be given priority because their produce is perishable. Kipipiri, Ol Jororok, Londiani, Ndaragua, and Kinangop are among the areas set to be the first beneficiaries. This is a positive move tailored towards reducing food and economic losses. Working with smallholder farmers in the mentioned areas FSPN Africa is committed to ensuring farmer groups grow in membership to join or form cooperatives that will improve their saving habits, get credits, and market muscle.