| The Modern farm business |
Farmers should unite and form cooperatives
Modern, go- ahead farmers want to contribute to the development of their village, their region and their country. They should try to get other farmers to make progress to' Then the village as a whole will develop, because everyone is helped by the progress of the others.
How can you help the development of your village?
A modern farmer who wants to bring about the development of his village can try to form cooperative groups:
• A group for joint work on such jobs as: clearing land and grubbing trees from new land to be farmed; getting the sowing done as quickly as possible, and at the right time for all the farmers of the group; bringing in the harvest, which often takes a very long time; land improvement, as for example, making an irrigated rice field with irrigation channels and checks; making a new plantation of coffee, oil palms, mango trees; mending villagers' houses; digging a well.
• A group for joint buying.
Some machines cost a lot, for example, a coffee berry pulping machine, a small thresher for rice, a seed drill. These tools are very useful to farmers, but each single farmer cannot buy these tools. Farmers should form a group to buy the equipment jointly, but also to use jointly. Then the farmers of the village will get on without being ruined.
• A joint selling group.
Farmers alone are weak against dealers. Dealers can cheat them over the weight, the quality and the prices. If the farmers of a village make a cooperative selling group they will be strong as against the dealers. They can defend themselves and can get a fair price for their produce.
These sales cooperatives can sell produce in town, where prices are higher.
These cooperative groups buy food crops from the farmers at a good price at harvest time, and sell them some months later in the hungry season, when prices are high. Thus, the farmers get their money at harvest time.
• Mutual credit groups.
Farmers do not have enough money for investment. They have to borrow, but often the credit institutes will not lend money to farmers on their own; or will only lend small sums at rather high interest rates.
If the farmers have formed a group, the credit institutes are readier to lend money, because all the farmers in the group support the one who gets the loan, and can pay for him if he cannot.
Farmers can also make their own mutual credit fund. Each farmer brings to the fund his money and savings; the mutual fund can then lend this money to these who need it.
• Other groups.
For example, study groups of five or six members to learn farming from the Better Farming booklets.
How to succeed with a group
Many groups have not succeeded.
Because no thought was given to the following rules. They are essential for the success of a group.
The members of the group must be united.
The group is made for the interests of all. In a group a farmer does not seek his own interests' but the interest of the whole group.
Each must take his share in joint work, such as sorting and transport. All must work. No one must leave work for others to do.
Losses and additional work must be shared, just as much as profits.
For example, in order to break up a group, a dealer offers higher prices to one member of a group. If the offer is accepted, the group is broken up, all the members of the group will lose, even the one who has agreed to sell. Once a group is broken up, the dealer can buy at a lower price. Everyone loses.
A group that is not united is lost.
In a group, everyone must know everyone else. But the group should be open to others to join.
It must also be known and approved by the village elders.
The members of the group must obey the rules of the group.
In a group the members are united. Everyone must obey the rules of the group. If a member does not obey the rules, the group is lost.
The group decides to sort and grade, and to present its produce in the same way, If everyone does it, the quality of the produce is always the same. Customers trust the produce. If one member of the group does not do it, the quality of the produce changes, customers no longer trust the produce. The group loses its customers.
The group decides to sell every Wednesday 1 000 kg of plantains. Each member of the group delivers every Tuesday five bunches of plantains. But several members of the group do not bring their five bunches on Tuesday. The dealer comes, but there are only 800 kg of plantains. The lorry will not be fully loaded. The dealer has wasted his time. The dealer will not want to buy again from the group.
If the rules are not obeyed, all the members of the group suffer. The group is lost.
Without rules which everyone keeps, there is no group.