Beholden of Cooperative Society Networking

Nyanchama Angela, Legal/Policy Research and Advocacy Officer at RECONCILE

In facilitating the engagement between RECONCILE and Small Dairy Commercialization Programme, a fact finding mission to understand the networking of Cooperatives was undertaken in Nandi and Uasin Gishu Counties. The emphasis of the planned activities were to display the set-up of the dairy sector as according to the Kenya Dairy Master Plan (DMP) 2010-2030, the dairy industry has grown at a rate of 3 to 4 percent annually (SDOL, 2010) and its continued growth is a key factor in attaining the national development goals as spelled out in Vision 2030.

Milk production being a crucial source of income for more than two million households across Kenya and a significant contributor to the nutrition and health of the entire population there is need to analyse and promote its sources. Currently, smallholder farmers, who produce over 80 percent of the domestic milk, dominate the dairy industry and are majorly linked to a cooperatives society as milk bulking stabilizes the bargaining power of an individual farmer. It promotes unity of a community while promoting development of a society.

The engagement realized that functionality of cooperatives in production of milk is dependent on a number of factors some of which are beyond the control of the farmer. The more comfortable the animal feels, the more productive it becomes as well as the more a farmer engages with a cooperative in terms of driving its market needs. It was realized that the factors touching efficiency amongst the four Cooperatives encompassed:

  • In built-up areas the farmers resulted to intensive production system such as zero grazing and cut and carry systems as there is no open grazing areas which may result to low milk production. The  and crop land have high livestock production which results to high milk production as they are able to practice free range production systems while in shrubs and bare land due to experience of low level of rainfall and less water points the herds are prone to diseases as the environs are not conducive. This then affects the quantity production as well as milk quality.
  • Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.
  • Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  • Markets can be contributors and blockers in promoting the Cooperatives initiatives depending on the circumstances. In as much as it is successful in meeting demands in the sector it is encumbered with limited product diversification and weak participation of producers in policy formulation.