The Operational Elements of the Vegetable Cooperatives: The Case of Agricultural Cooperative Societies in King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality, Eastern Cape Province
Keywords:Farm Management, Record Keeping, Training, Constitution, Decision Making, Extension
Cooperatives are typically established to help create jobs and improve their members' economic and social conditions, among various other roles. Farmers’ cooperative societies play a vital role in enhancing the livelihood of resource-poor farmers. The government has initiated various support programmes to assist agricultural cooperative societies to remain viable; however, many cooperatives continue to flounder while some have collapsed. This study identifies operational components like members' roles, cooperative constitutions and decision-making processes, record-keeping, education and training of members, farm and financial management and level of extension service involvement as critical roles in sustaining agricultural cooperatives. Therefore, this study's objective was to assess the key operational components of vegetable cooperative societies and the level of extension support provided to the cooperatives in the study area. Ten functional vegetable cooperatives in the municipality were purposively selected for the study. At the same time, data for the survey was obtained from the board of directors and members of the cooperatives. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires consisting of closed and open-ended questions. The presentation of results was done using simple descriptive statistical tools. The study outcome shows that about 50% of the cooperatives noted that members were largely involved in the daily running of the cooperatives, governance, and decision-making processes. However, many cooperatives are constrained by the lack of training of its members on conflict resolutions (90%), with about 30% and 40% not receiving training on record keeping and financial management, respectively. The role of extension services towards the sustainability of the cooperatives is crucial. Most (80%) of the cooperatives indicated some level of interaction between the cooperatives and extension personnel, albeit the need to improve the frequency of extension visits, training, and follow-up appointments. The result of this study implies that cooperatives in the region need to improve in key operational areas. Extension personnel need to be more available to support cooperative activities effectively.
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