Cooperative yes, cooperation no!

Although the majority of producers are affiliated with an association or cooperative, the sui generis concept of cooperation is practically nonexistent within family farming in Angola and the idea is conveyed that cooperativism is selective, that is, producers must to join this model in order to benefit from the benefits established by Government programs. In addition to the fact that most cooperatives do not live cooperatively, the concept itself needs to be better disseminated among producers so that they realize the real scope of the cooperative model, not only to receive but above all to increase operational efficiency, reduce costs , dilute risks and increase negotiating power.

As an example, in most of the cooperatives participating in this study (Huambo, Malanje and Bié), producers are responsible for purchasing their own inputs, due to their capacity and financial availability and because of this the network of suppliers varies between the Government. (subsidized inputs), companies accredited to sell inputs and the informal market. The same happens throughout the process of planting and maintaining crops, each producer is responsible for maintaining their culture and most of the time there is no manual that facilitates the standardization of products or techniques.

Intercooperation and interest in the community are 2 of the 7 principles of cooperativism developed in 1844 in Rochdale, in intercooperation the cooperative members work together through local or regional structures and for that it is essential to have confidence in the work developed by each member. Trust is precisely one of the “cultural blocks” that needs to be demystified within family farming in Angola.Since there is no trust, each member of the cooperative or association has an obligation to strive to acquire its inputs and equipment, thereby increasing individual production costs, reducing the profit margin and no one takes advantage of the concept of resource sharing. It is worth noting that this is not an endemic situation that applies to all cooperatives, but the phenomenon was observed in at least 80% of the consulted cooperatives.

As an example, in Huambo province, it was possible to identify a group of corn producers belonging to the same cooperative. However, each one produces according to their experience and technique, thus resulting in a final product differentiated between them, consequently it is not possible to negotiate a single global sale, but several small sales depending on the type, quantity and quality of the final product.

In 1844, in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, it was when the world’s first cooperative officially appeared in Rochdale, England. This operated under principles that are observed until today. Inspired by the 28 pioneer cooperative members of Rochdale, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) drew up in 1995 the seven principles of cooperativism – guidelines for action so that cooperatives can put into practice their values ​​of democracy, freedom, equity, solidarity and justice Social.

The Angolan legislation establishes in the Law of Cooperativism of Nº 23/2015: “The international experience, in particular of sub-Saharan African countries, reveals that cooperativism can be a form of business organization with vast economic and social relevance, capable of generating employment, increasing the production of goods and services, contribute to food security, promote social inclusion and regional integration and reduce poverty on a large scale.

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