Transitioning from Producer Cooperatives to Agribusiness Hubs
For the past seven years, Africa Development Promise has been strengthening the capacity of producer cooperatives to improve the lives and livelihoods of rural women in Rwanda and Uganda. We promote the cooperative model of enterprise because it is a powerful group-based venture for social inclusion, political and economic empowerment because they are based on the principles of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, member education, and concern for the community. By acting collectively, they can pool resources (money, labor, and knowledge) to create economies of scale, increase their income and bargaining power. Our four-part strategy establishes a firm foundation for the development of sustainable businesses that move women small holder farmers beyond subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture. Between the two countries, we support a total of eight agricultural cooperatives, each at a different stage of development.
A key focus of our 2021 – 2025 Strategic Plan is leveraging the collective economic power of collectives to help them become more competitive in the marketplace. As we continue to explore sustainable business opportunities ADP is piloting a new innovative approach and business model which if successful will be promoted and adopted by all the cooperatives.
The approach is also known as the Hub Model is a rural business center that supports and connects a network of farmers in the vicinity with each other, markets, service providers, government extension networks, and other support services. The Hub addresses the complete product value chain and may be focused on any commodity.
The pandemic disruption in the agricultural and food systems because of pandemic-related travel restrictions and border closings impacted the availability and cost of farm inputs and labor, distribution, and consumption. For rural communities in Rwanda and Uganda, this posed a greater risk to household food security and poverty. Hub centralizes the pre-and post-harvest services thus lowering the cost of inputs, storage, and marketing, etc. It will also move the producer cooperatives that we support to the center of the value chain. The Hub becomes a one-stop-shop for farm supplies, inputs, training, financial services, and other income-generating services.
Epaphroditus Women’s Cooperative in Uganda and KOTINGOZA Cooperative in Rwanda, two of the more mature cooperatives will be the pilot test case for the Hub model. Epaphroditus will focus on mushrooms while KOTINGOZA will focus on tomatoes and bell peppers. The group-based principles mentioned above will continue because the hub is still member-owned and managed.