HOW TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE OF FARMERS BASED ORGANIZATIONS THROUGH COOPERATIVE BUSINESS SCHOOL.
Farmers form and participate in groups in order to benefit socially and economically through collective activities. However, membership in groups alone is not enough to facilitate the improvement of livelihoods, owing to the fact that only successful groups would be able to fully exploit their potential and meet the interests of their members. Understanding group performance is therefore a pertinent issue among social researchers and development practitioners working with farmers groups.
To strengthen Farmers based organizations capacity, the cooperative business school was introduced to enhance the cooperative group at the budding stage. The managers of Farmers based organizations or the Lead farmers selected from the clusters of all established groups. This cooperative must have completed training on Farmers Business and Good Agricultural Practice. This is a prerequisite requirement for the groups leads to qualify for the cooperative business school. In the cooperative business school training curriculum, the following issues are tackled:
- Business services (including procurement, marketing, internal and external financial services and training), related business model and business plan development
- Understanding markets, the value chain and related logistics
- Financial and strategic management of Farmers based organizations
There is still potential to improve Farmers based Organization capacities to provide business services to their members. To this effect, market orientation, entrepreneurship, knowledge of value chains, good governance of farmer organizations, the technical and economic viability of Farmers based organisations have to be strengthened. Beyond institutional development, managing teams of Farmers based organisations need technical, economic and organizational skills on one side and the buy-in of members to succeed business services on the other
Findings from the literature indicate that scholars have measured performance of group differently, and this can be divided into three broad areas: Group performance measured by the level of cohesion/group characteristics, group performance measured by outputs/benefits and group performance measured by both levels of cohesion/group characteristics and outputs/benefits.
The measurement of performance of groups engaging in the same activities has been much easier, however; for the groups that engage in diverse activities, the measurement of their performance becomes even more complicated.
For any organization, the performance of staff is important as it determines if the organization will be successful or not. Performance management is a process by which managers and employees work together to plan, monitor and review an employee’s work objectives and overall contribution to the organization. More than just an annual performance review, performance management is the continuous process of setting objectives, assessing progress and providing on-going coaching and feedback to ensure that employees are meeting their objectives and career goals.
When it comes to Farmers based organizations especially in most African countries, less emphasize has been laid on the improvement of the performance of members of the Farmers based organizations. This has resulted in poor performance, less efficiency and lack of competitiveness of most of the organizations. Several non-oil export agricultural commodities in the continent has one form of associations, groups and trade unions at regional, national and local levels yet they have no voice in the international market.
Low output and quality that do not meet international demand and standards, as well as inability of the leadership of such organization on advocacy, policy dialogue, negotiation and effective engagement of policymakers on their needs, have contributed no small measures to their inefficiencies. Below are key steps to revive farmer-based organizations, associations and trade unions for better performance:
1 Develop objectives together: Each members should know and be conversant with the mission statement, vision and objectives of the group. This will help them to work with focus
2 Practice effective communication among members: Communication is power. There should be effective communication among members. Everyone should be carried along in the decision process.
3 Work Together: Working together across the board should be encouraged
4 Share Information: Share information on opportunities, innovations, market studies and other related issues freely among members. Information sharing platform should be created for faster dissemination.
5 Support One Another: Since everyone has different skills and capacity, strategies should be put in place to support members professionally and emotionally.
6 Encourage everyone to take part in the activities of the Group: Since all humans have the different risk-taking ability, members should be motivated to actively involved in the projects of the group
7 Monitor and evaluate your Activities Together: A good Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system should be put in place. In fact, leaders of the groups should be enlightened on the importance of M & E and also supported to have it in place.
9 Practice 360 feed-back: Always get feedback from the team members and stakeholders. This will help to identify areas of strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threat (SWOT)