Farmer co-operatives, group enterprises and gender in Kilimanjaro region: a socio-economic analysis.

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


In this study the level of women participation in co-operative activities and the socio­ economic and cultural characteristics, which limit women’s participation in co-operatives in Kilimanjaro region were studied. Moshi Rural and Mwanga districts were selected for the study. Seventeen primary co­ operative societies and 4 women group enterprises were selected from the two districts. Descriptive statistics, mainly percentages and means were computed. A T-test was done to determine if there was any difference in yields between primary cooperative societies’ members and non members. Chi-square analysis was also carried out to determine if there was any significant relationship between respondents’ general characteristics and membership in cooperatives. Gross margin analysis was done to establish relative monthly profitability of the selected women group enterprises. Based on the analysis, it was found that several factors have led into low production of coffee and poor performance of primary co-operative societies that deal with coffee marketing. Some of the factors responsible for this situation included (a) high price of agricultural inputs, which has caused the majority of farmers to stop using purchased inputs. This has lowered production of coffee, which has in turn lowered the amount of coffee collected by co-operatives, (b) procurement of coffee being dominated by private traders, which has further reduced the quantity of coffee collected by co-operative societies, and (c) shortage of land in Kilimanjaro region. Furthermore, the study foundiii that women participation in primary co-operative societies as members and leaders is limited by the fact that women do not own land for production of coffee. To overcome this deficiency, some women engage in group enterprises. Such group enterprises do not perform very well due to capital inadequacy, time constraints for participation in group enterprises and lack of market for the goods produced. Also where credit and extension services were available, only a few women get access to such services compared to men. It was also found that low production of coffee, presence of private buyers who provide an alternative market to primary co-operative societies, and the insignificant difference in coffee yields between members and non-members have made some farmers reluctant to buy shares and become primary co-operative society members. Based on the study findings it is recommended that (a) where credit schemes to assist poor rural women are available, a wide range of collateral besides land (which is limited to most women) should be accepted and focus should be on individual women as well, (b) since co-operatives have previously failed due to lack of debt collection policy, an effort be made in future to make sure that parallel to creation of women’s credit facilities, debt collection is adequately enforced to sustain such institution, (c) income generating projects, which do not require substantial capital should be initiated in order to enable most rural women to generate reasonable income, (d) women should be assisted to secure markets, (e) when assistance for rural development is provided, focus should be put on enhancing women capacity to utilise it profitably and sustainably, and (f) for every primary co-operative society, there should be a specified percent of women in membership and in election of leaders, women should be included.


MSc.Dissertation in Agricultural Economics


Farmer cooperatives, Kilimanjaro region, Group enterprises, Women participation