March 4, 2024

Championing the Growth of Cooperatives for Increased Food Security

Jane Mumo

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Championing the Growth of Cooperatives for Increased Food Security

The County government of Kakamega and USAID Strategic Partnership Program’s Agency and Voice of the Private Sector convened 45 Board Members drawn from 15 producer cooperatives for a four-day capacity-building forum. The forum underscored the importance of market linkages and financial management for the growth of grassroot cooperatives and Business Associations. Known for its agricultural economic activities, contributing to 52.2 % of the Gross County Product, the capacity building workshop came at such a prime time when the County Boss, His Excellency Hon. Fernandes Barasa OGW, is working towards improving food security and economic transformation through the revival of grassroots cooperatives.

Speaking during the forum, the Board Members affirmed that cooperatives have massive opportunities to spearhead community empowerment and wealth creation. However, challenges such as underdeveloped market linkages, poor quality of inputs, lack of adoption of technology, poor governance structures and financial constraints are hindering their growth.

“In Kakamega, the cooperatives are so many. However, we lack prosperity because of a lack of knowledge in areas such as markets and financial management. If finance is controlled at the cooperative level, then there will be prosperity,’’ expressed Mr. Shikali Henry, Chairman of the Kakamega Dairy Cooperatives.

A classic example of the potential of cooperatives in revitalizing the economy of the county is Kakamega Dairy Cooperative; a frontier for economic growth, providing a source of livelihood to so many people. The cooperative boasts of having a membership of 621 registered members. The cooperative processes 860 liters of milk daily at a rate of Ksh 50 per liter, but envisions growth through increased production by addressing challenges such as having a cold room for product storage and a dedicated van to transport milk to markets efficiently.

According to one of the trainers, Mr. Kigen, strengthening market linkages is vital for reducing post-harvest losses, creating a more equitable distribution of power within the supply chain, encouraging investment, and generally advancing agricultural practices. Further, financial management prowess is crucial to making informed decisions and developing effective strategic plans.

The County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Mr. Benjamin Andama, emphasized that through a cooperative, producers can improve their productivity, strengthen their position in the value chain, build more sustainable livelihoods for their families and their communities and produce better food for all.

To show commitment toward driving change in their cooperatives, the leaders crafted practical strategies for effective market linkages and financial management that will propel their cooperatives to the next level.  With continuous monitoring and evaluation, this will be the first step towards the empowerment of cooperatives and improving wealth creation and economic growth in the county.

The Mandate of AVPS

Agency and Voice of the Private Sector (AVPS), under the USAID Strategic Partnership Program, aims to enhance the voice of the county-level private sector to create and advocate for a conducive business-enabling environment through institutional capacity-building; market intelligence/insights, and public-private policy dialogues to improve livelihoods.

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