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Saturday, 3 May 2014

ALIN and SNV hold capacity assessment training for co-operative

By Bob Aston and Sam Nzioka
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in partnership with Netherlands Development organization (SNV) convened capacity assessment training on 29th and 30th April 2014 for the management committee of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society. The main goal of the capacity assessment was to understand the interventions needed so as to address the gaps.
The training which was attended by ALIN deputy Director and SNV governance advisor on PG-HGSF reflected on micro and macro factors that influence the performance of a co-operative. It focused on issues that need attention and the stakeholders involved. It also identified some gaps and ways of addressing them as well as identifying priority areas of intervention.
Leah addressing LPMC management committee members
 Leah Njeri, a governance advisor on PG-HGSF with SNV urged the co-operative to know their competitors well so as to restructure their services and provide what others cannot. She said they should learn what makes their business enterprise different and maximize on it.
Anthony Mugo-ALIN Deputy Director urged the co-operative to ensure they give farmers value for their money. He said they should improve the quality of services provided in order to gain trust of members.
Participants looked at some of the co-operative objectives like; To improve economic welfare of members, to link farmers to markets and other business opportunities, to train and build capacities of farmers to adopt good agricultural practices, to increase access of quality, quantity and timely farm input supplies to farmers, to maximize profits by adding value to produce and to improve financial base of the cooperative and services to farmers.
“Structures follow strategy. If the strategies are clear, understanding the skills gap will enable the cooperative to pull somebody from the members to come in and support. There is need to go for low hanging fruits,” said Leah.
Participants also clarified their missions. These included; Source for better markets, provision of inputs (seeds, fertilizer and agro-chemicals), value addition, training and capacity building for producer groups, establishment of financing and welfare and agency banking.
“The cooperative needs to open up and go for the service provider who gives them value for their money and offers the best terms for business environment. Instead of borrowing money, the cooperative can improve their working capital base so that they can remain in business,” said Anthony.
Anthony addressing LPMC management committee members
The participants agreed that it would be important for the co-operative to recruit a staff member. The objective of this will be to allow the person to push the business part of the cooperative and to implement the business plan.
“SNV will support in employing a staff member and buying some equipment’s through technical funds. Some jobs can be outsourced like hiring somebody with book keeping skills to reconcile account books and do the trial balance,” said Leah.
Leah added: “There is need to also set targets which need to be clear from the action plan. There is also need to have systematic processes and accountability within the cooperative,”
The co-operative committee members agreed that there is need to look for a person who has business skills background and who can perform. This will make the cooperative start on the right foot. They also agreed to have transparency and accountability during recruitment process and the person recruited should work towards delivering his or her terms of reference.
“It is important to bring somebody on board so as to keep the momentum and not to leave a vacuum that will make the cooperative move back.  There has to be continuity,’ said Anthony.
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