After a six months internship with CIAT in Uganda- sponsored by GIZ, under the EDC initative – Mr. Bernardo Manzano Lepe defended his MSc thesis at Humboldt University in Berlin and graduated “Magna Cum Laude”. Bernardo wrote a thesis based on his work experience and the data collected in Uganda. Here he supported the EDC initative in organizing a “Cooperative Leadership Event”, which gathered 150 participants over 4 days, to learn about cooperative agribusiness development. Bernardo followed up the event with a few field visits to produce in depth case studies of Uganda agricultural cooperatives. Bernardo was also instrumental in developing the partnership between EDC and the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA).
Summary of the Thesis
Title: The role of agriculture cooperatives and farmer organizations on the sustainable agricultural practices adoption in Uganda.
Author: Manzano Lepe, Bernardo
Promoters: Prof. Dr. Markus Hanisch, Dr. Sergio Villamayor-Tomas
Sustainable agricultural practices (SAPs) are crucial to reduce soil degradation, soil erosion, water depletion and lack of moisture in the crops, improving productivity, reducing poverty and food insecurity that affects millions of households in Uganda. The adoption of SAPs is an interdependent and multivariable process due to numerous factors which determine the decisions to use them, and the decisions vary from farmer to farmer. The SAPs adoption rate remains low; therefore it is extremely important to find proper mechanisms to increase their implementation. Among different determinants of adoption, agricultural cooperatives (Agri-coops) and farmer organizations (FOs) stand as an important factors that show a significant correlation of SAPs adoption rates due to their dependence in natural resources-based activities and their organizational nature. This master thesis contributes to the literature by examining the functions and features of Ugandan agriculture cooperatives and farmer organizations that influence the SAPs service provision among their members and analyze how to improve its impacts. The research encompasses a statistical analysis from ninety-nine cooperative leaders’ survey and two case studies conducted at Uganda as a part of the project “Enhancing Development through Cooperatives” (EDC) under the International Center of Tropic Agriculture (CIAT). Descriptive statistics results show that only in 8.1% of the organizations answered that their justification is aligned with the better management of their natural resources; and just 6% of the organizations answered that their main objective is related with environmental sustainability issues. The Poisson regression analysis shows a significant level of correlation between the number of SAPs services provided by the organizations with information access; external support; autonomy; organization size and the perception of the soil and water problems. The case studies highlight the importance of an organizational structure based on committees and farmer groups that disseminate information, monitor and supervise their SAPs implementation. In addition the case studies show the importance of external support to provide reliable information and means to provide more services. Moreover, the creation of revolving loan schemes and savings and credit cooperative societies (SACCOs) to finance the investment of SAPs implementation are crucial for the adoption rates of SAPs among their members. The study suggests a shift from the “new cooperative model” to a “holistic cooperative model” approach that can balance the economic, social and environmental services of the farmer organizations and contribute to solve the inequality, poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation problems of their members.
Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the joint academic degree of: International Master of Science in Rural Development from Ghent University (Belgium), Agrocampus Ouest (France), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin of Berlin (Germany), Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia) and University of Pisa (Italy) in collaboration with Wageningen University (The Netherlands).