One of the beauties of the tropics is that you can grow virtually anything at any time. We want to utilize every arable piece of land in the area. The singular goal of the agricultural coop is to create an environment that enables the participating farmers to quadruple their current harvest without re-inventing their traditional crop productions. The coop will offer mechanized land preparation through shared equipment, irrigation, quality seed, marketing, and technical support. The agricultural coop will invest an average of $1,000 per farmer, an amount that is to be repaid to the coop as production and profit for the farmer is increased. The contribution of the farmers will be re-invested in the coop in order to increase the beneficiaries.
Project goals and objectives: The goals for this agricultural coop are simple and self-evident for any farming activity. It is not the aim of this project to reshape the farming practices of the community but simply to build on existing practices and improve them for its members so they can increase their yield and profit.
- Establish the agricultural coop with the resources that an average farmer could never afford on his own and make those resources available to all the members.
- Enlist the farmers with land either owned or leased that are in proximity to water so that a mobile irrigation system can provided the needed water to ensure successful crops.
- Set the farming agenda in cooperation with the farmers and agronomist technicians.
- There will not be any major change in terms of the type of crop that the participating members will be encouraged to grow. There will be legumes (Haricot, Pois-Congo, Pois de Souche), cereals (Corn, Sorgho), roots (sweet potatoes, ‘manioc,’ ‘igname,’ peanut). These crops are consumed locally and throughout the country.
- Crop selections and best practice methods will be establish during training and discussion sessions with the technicians.
- Plan with a view of producing four harvests a year instead of the traditional two.
Within two years of its initial launch, the original farmers should be self-sufficient in their practice, able to pay their own way through the coop and begin a repayment for the initial investment made into their farms. Within five years, the number of participants should double and all initials debts repaid. The community should become less and less dependent of crops from outside the immediate community for the items that it is able to produce. This recycling of income within the community will impact everyone’s quality of life.
At the heart of CODEF’s mandate is a commitment to empower others to become self-sufficient and this project is singularly focused on this goal. From recruitment to training to production marketing, the farmer will be in the driver’s seat. He will retain ownership of his land, dictate how much land he wants to commit to the new program and sell his harvest in a way that is most profitable to him; hopefully, that will be through the coop’s marketing arm. Even his contract with the coop is empowering because that contract will define his obligations and that of the coop. The coop will fulfill his obligation to the farmer with a timely preparation of his land for planting, regular irrigation of the crops, regular visits from the technicians to provide advice and ensure good care of the crop. The coop would have found the various profitable outlets for the produced crops and sell them at a time that would be most advantageous to the farmer and coop.