It is quite common nowadays to hear political leaders calling upon small scale farmers to form cooperative societies sometimes referred to as groups.
The idea is to help farmers pool together their resources in order to produce more and to earn more.
When 50 tomato farmers in one area join hands to market their product, they have a big quantity to sell and they are in a better position to negotiate for fair prices.
As a group they can buy a truck to take their tomatoes to far-off markets and thus avoid exploitation by middle men. They can buy inputs in bulk and cheaply.
A cooperative society should elect its leaders transparently and fairly. It ought to have well laid out regulations including holding regular meetings to decide on the various issues that may arise every now and again.
Members should join without questioning their religion, political party, sex, tribe or any form of segregation as long as they are known to be of good character and actively involved in the same economic activity.
Each member should be a shareholder since this is the only way for the cooperative society to raise capital. Any form of promotion or selection for office should be based on merit and ability.
All profits earned should be clearly and transparently revealed to the members and shared equitably according to the laid down regulations.
The society leaders must be ready to hand over their positions to other elected office bearers and there should be a time limit for holding office.
The District Commercial Officer should always be welcome to monitor the activities of the society and to provide guidance.
A cooperative society should every now and again invite experts to talk to its members about such topics as record keeping, better farming practices, fighting crop diseases, good post-harvest practices hygiene and nutrition, among others.
Members should also as much as possible attend agricultural exhibitions and make visits to successful farmers. As much as possible a cooperative society should resist being associated with any political party, religion, or movement.