Developing Agriculture In Nigeria Through Cooperative Societies.


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A cooperative society is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs.

While cooperative societies are effective at both rural and developed economies, it is not in doubt that rural societies need more support as agriculture is more practiced at that level and farmers have little or no access to bank loan facilities.

Where they have access, they lack the collaterals needed to access such loans, making the cooperative societies are a better option for them. Recent statistics have shown that 250 million people are involved in full or part time work in cooperatives and Nigeria has 125,000 registered cooperatives out of which 106,000 of them (85 per cent) are said to be agricultural based.

Being a platform where members are able to contribute funds for a common goal and are able to access such funds to meet their goals, in agriculture, members use such funds to meet their agricultural needs, particularly to hire equipment, get fertilisers and pay for labour among several others.

The Cooperative Development Policy for Nigeria revealed that cooperative societies are usually organised in four structures. These are primary (societies), secondary (unions), state and national apexes. They have also been credited with increasing foreign exchange through the production and export of substantial quantities of quality export crops, minimisation of the exploitation of producers by middlemen, mobilisation of mass enlightenment and the formation of strong and viable cooperative societies in urban and rural areas through-out the country. The need to further develop the nation’s cooperative society in agriculture is captured in the 2013 cooperative policy which is aimed at assisting Nigerians build a strong autonomous cooperative society that could compete effectively in the private sector, ensure that all cooperatives operate according to the rule of law without compromising the legitimate interests of third parties and the general public among others.

The strategies to achieving these includes aggressive cooperative extension/education, establishment of cooperative microfinance banks, linkage with agencies that provide micro insurance services and establishment of proposed national cooperative commission among others. In recent times the federal government, through the federal Ministry of agriculture and Rural development developed several windows, including supporting various financial institutions as a means to helping farmers access loans and various funds. This includes the Nigerian Incentive –based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Fund for Agricultural Financing in Nigeria (FAFIN), the $200 million Small and Medium Enterprises Fund by the federal government for the development of small business among several others.

Unfortunately, despite these efforts farmers continue to insists that the various funds, in partnership with commercial banks, continue to remain policy statement as they continue to complain about the high interest rates demanded. This is against the single-digit interest rates the government continues to canvass for. Cooperatives societies, therefore, are alternative windows of funding where members can access funds for their agricultural activities. It is also a better window for accessing loans and accessing agricultural inputs and equipment at lower cost as against the acquisition of such by individuals.

Speaking at the National Council on cooperative Affairs held in Abuja, recently, the minister of agriculture and rural development, represented by his counterpart, the state minister, Mrs Asabe Ahmed, spoke on the need to further develop cooperative societies, especially in the agric sector.