Comparative analysis of the Cooperatives under the Agriflora Smallholder outgrowers Scheme

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Mwiinga, Mukwiti Nchooli
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The study was initiated and designed as a comparative evaluation of the cooperative performances of four Outgrower cooperatives affiliated with Agriflora Smallholder Outgrowers Scheme. Based on the information indicated in the production summary for the 2000/2001 season in appendix I, two selected cooperatives performed very well and another two performed very poorly. The main aim of the study was to generate information that would highlight the major factors that contribute to the performance disparities in the four cooperatives under consideration. The survey was carried out in Katuba, Leobex (Leopard Hill/ Ibex Hill area), Nyemba and Lilayi cooperatives. A total of 46 farmers were sampled and questionnaires were administered to them as the main source of primary data. In addition to this, primary data was also obtained from the administrative officials in the Agriflora Smallholder Outgrower Scheme through an interview. Secondary data from various literature reviews of previous studies pertaining to contract farming (Outgrowing) was revised.The study assessed the factors that have a major bearing on the individual farmer's performance which subsequently bear on their cooperative's overall performance. A beneficiary assessment of the small scale farmers was done to obtain the farmer's general opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the contracting firm Agriflora. The study concludes that there is a very strong positive relationship between the performance of an individual farmer and: a)the amount of farming experience a farmer has b)the length of time a farmer has been affiliated to the outgrower scheme c)the amount of Extension service a farmer receives d)the level of education of a farmer e)the supervision of farm workers and the active participation of the farmer in the actual field work in his/her farm. f)the engagement of the farmer in other income generating activities. All these factor relate to the overall performance of the cooperatives. The effect of these factors will vary from one cooperative to another. With all these factors put into consideration, Agriflora can then tailor its production support to meet the specific needs of the small scale farmers.