Many of Togo’s rural farmers are unable to access financial services and therefore continue to use outdated methods and tools. They continually struggle to meet the costs of farming basics, such as seeds and fertiliser, ongoing veterinary care and animal feed to name a few. With a lack of efficient post-harvest storage facilities, farmers often have to sell their harvest early and with limited protection against crop failure and market price fluctuations, farmers have very little bargaining power with buyers. This often results in having to sell their crops at unfavourable prices, sometimes barely covering their costs.
Our experience working with rural farmers has taught us that working together is a more effective and successful way to achieving goals and growth.
Taking this into account, our team, both here and in Togo, have worked closely to develop a 3-year agricultural cooperatives programme. Our aim is to provide ethical financial services and business management training to farming households living in rural Togo. These households live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.
Agricultural cooperatives allow farmers more certainty and play a vital role in socio-economic development, food security and poverty reduction. They provide small farms with access to educational resources, tools and access to more supplies and markets at reasonable cost. Our goal is to reduce farmers’ costs by increasing the scale of their economies.
With stronger buying power and the financial support to buy in larger quantities, basic production costs are lowered. Farmers become empowered to invest in increasing their productivity and improving the quality of their crops. Hiring or purchasing mechanised farm equipment or hiring extra labour to help with harvesting is now not so far out of reach.
Storage of harvest yield and transport can all be managed collectively, giving farmers more freedom to take advantage of otherwise inaccessible marketplaces, selling their crops at a better price than they would be able to on their own.