Creating a sustainable and confident community through farming cooperatives.

Deki has been working alongside people in rural communities for over ten years now and we have supported many entrepreneurs in many different lines of business. We have found that the majority of our loans over the years have gone to small family subsistence farms, growing crops of soy, cassava, or corn or farmers who rear goats and chickens.

Many of these small rural farms are only 1 to 2 acres in size, some are even smaller, and have only enough resources for survival, producing little or no surplus. Many of the costs involved with increasing yield is out of reach for the poorest farmers, making growth difficult to impossible and so the cycle of poverty continues.

Many of Togo’s rural farmers are unable to access financial services and therefore continue to use outdated methods and tools.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.

Our cooperatives programme will be implemented across forty rural villages, made up of small animal husbandry and subsistence farms. This year we planned to create 27 new community cooperative groups to gather local resources and provide 594 farmers with livelihood development loans and training on topics related to cooperative participation and management which will include; understanding cooperatives, communication, organizational development, cooperative management and accounting.

 Our vision for the cooperatives programme is to empower its members economically and socially. Being involved with the decision-making processes and planning will give them the strength in markets to negotiate fair prices, which in turn, will enable them to become more resilient to economic and environmental shocks.

 Deki continues to focus on addressing gender inequality. Empowering women in agriculture is central to the cooperative’s success as 60% of the workforce are women, who are an integral part of every stage: ploughing, planting, weeding and harvesting.

This project will support women to take leadership roles within their community by involving them in all aspects of the project; from cooperative formation to activity planning.

Therefore, 40% of cooperative loans will go to women and through this project 238 women will attend workshops run by WiLDAF (Women in Law and Development), an organisation specialising in empowering women by promoting their rights and active participation in their communities.

The Deki and IADES agricultural cooperatives project will not only help to create financially resilient and mutually supportive communities, but they will provide a platform for further community development initiatives, such as healthcare workshops. Training and discussions around topics like malaria prevention, water sanitation, energy poverty and family planning will be offered regularly to community members.

 This project emphasizes the creation and strengthening of community-based, self-managed organisations which are crucial to building community confidence for continued success in working their way out of the cycle of poverty.

Deki’s farming cooperative of 594 members will impact the lives of 2,970 people living in rural Togo. Each member will change the lives of at least 5 other people around them; creating employment opportunities, sending their children to school, paying for medical care are just a few examples of the changes that are made possible through sustainable community development.

Help us with our vision to create a world of opportunity, not poverty