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Supporting the professionalisation of farmers organisations in Rwanda

February 21, 2018

A cooperative leadership event (CLE) for promoting professionalisation and commercialisation in farmer associations and agricultural cooperatives will be held from 26th February to the 1st March, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. The training will build on the success of CLE events held across Africa during the last two years.

The latest CLE is to be hosted by the National Cooperatives Confederation of Rwanda and is supported by Land o’Lakes International, CTA, Overseas Cooperative Development Council, USAID, Oxfam and the Ford Foundation. The event will gather and train the leaders, managers and stakeholders of 100 agricultural cooperatives and farmer associations from across Rwanda.

The aim of the training is to professionalise the governance structure of these associations and cooperatives and create an enabling environment to minimize side-selling by farmer members. Whilst most agricultural cooperatives in Africa tend to be inclusive, democratic, equitable and socially responsible, only a few have been able to successfully commercialise the agricultural produce of their members. However, the CLE training will help to transform these farmers associations and cooperatives into viable businesses with greater capacity to integrate their farmer members into different agricultural value chains.

Interactive training and dialogue

CLE training activities combine research-based lectures, mutual learning sessions and policy dialogues for the leaders and managers of farmer cooperatives and associations, as well as for their key stakeholders: service providers, investors, donors and policymakers. The training consists of four modules: ‘The Cooperative Life Cycle’; ‘The Cooperative Principles’; ‘Change Management in African Cooperatives’; and ‘Cooperative Policymaking’ which was developed in collaboration with the University of Missouri. In addition, the CLEs are designed to gather data on rural cooperative movements and the data collected is used, in turn, to produce research to keep improving and updating the content and format of the training curriculum. The course is also accredited by the Agribusiness Market Ecosystem Alliance, a global alliance of companies that creates a standardised approach towards farmer professionalism.

More specifically, the CLE training involves the farmer organisation leaders and managers taking part in a series of interactive, classroom-style lectures before they self-organise into working groups to discuss the lessons learnt and make propositions for professionalising their cooperatives and associations. The groups discuss and define the ‘enabling environment’ or external support needed to realise those propositions. A representative is then elected by each group and the 10 elected representatives form an ‘executive committee’ to bring together and consolidate group-discussions into a power-point presentation. The committee finally appoints two spokespersons to present key propositions and requests for discussion with a panel of stakeholders.

The CLE training in Rwanda is the ninth such event in Africa. Other events have been organised in Senegal, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and Madagascar by similar consortia including national host institutions and international supporters.