Farmers have been advised to form cooperatives in order to gain more from their produce. The advice was handed down by an agriculture expert to women farmers at a one-day sensitization on climate-smart agriculture organized by a non-governmental organization, Centre for Rural Integration and Development, CRIDEV.
Mr. Awele Akwunwa told women at Abuator and Okpai communities in Aboh Local Government Area of Delta State, that setting up coperatives is the surest way to make money in farming.
According to him, cooperatives help members pool resources together, share responsibilities, and cut off middlemen which results in more money for farmers.
“The best way to make gains from farming is to form cooperatives. Cooperatives create money. Gather together, and contribute anything from N200 weekly, with this you can tackle some problems, like buying fertilizer/pesticides, and reduce stress.
“As a cooperative, you can decide to collectedly help out each other and so save on labour costs. Cooperatives give you support that you cannot get alone and offer you a stronger voice to speak up, make demands to improve things,” the resource person told the women.
“Group farming is the best forum for raising capital, labour and problem solving,” he stressed and added that under cooperatives the women will be better able to take their goods directly to the major markets in the cities and sell for more as against the current low prices they get from middlemen who come to them.
Akunwa told the women that their current farming experiences of poor and unhealthy yields, unpredictable weather, and flooding, are linked to climate change aided by damage from oil and gas activities in the area.
He said that in view of the damage from constant flooding, there is a need for them to add short-term yielding crops for which CRIDEV has brought seedlings to help as these would ensure that there is some money in their hands within a short time.
“Short-term crops like okra, cucumber, garden egg, and watermelon, will help bring money to your hands while you wait for your traditional cassava and yam to mature. These crops can also be replanted as you harvest, meaning that you have the economic guarantee,” he pointed out.
Earlier, the Executive Director of CRIDEV, Lilian Nwokobia told the women that their cries of frustration from struggling with a heavily degraded environment and flooding leaving them to struggle with poverty caught the attention of the organization, and expressed gratitude to the Global Green Fund for supporting the program.
She said CRIDEV will help the women form two cooperatives and monitor them to ensure they begin to manage their farming better.
The women were later provided with improved okra, cucumber, watermelon, and garden egg seedlings. In their response, they lamented neglect by the government at all levels, and lack of amenities despite being oil-host communities. In particular, they complained of health challenges.
The women were advised to form a pressure body in each of the two communities, Abuctor and Okpai, to take their demands to the local government leadership, their community leaders, and their state and National Assembly representatives, to make their voices heard and action taken on their challenges.
“Form a strong body in your communities and tackle all your problems to your leaders from your community to National Assembly level,” the programme facilitator told them.