Agricultural Productivity, Co-Operatives and Organisational Innovations: A Case of Selected Coffee Production Communities in Mbinga District Tanzania
Agriculture is the backbone of the majority of developing countries accounting between 30 and 60 percent of their Gross Domestic Product. Studies indicate that presence of cooperative societies, institutional support and other organisational linkages can enhance productivity and increase farmers’ income by bringing financial services closer. The study objectives aimed at establishing coffee production level in the last farming season; examining the contribution of cooperative societies in the production of coffee; and determine organisation innovations existing in coffee production. Methodologically, the study made use of cross section research design and data were collected from five villages namely Utiri, Mtama, Mahumba, Mahande and Iringa located in Mbinga District. Key respondents were the coffee smallholder farmers located in the aforementioned villages who were also members of Kimuli Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Society (AMCOS) and Muungano Savings and Credit Co-operative Society - a SACCOS. Multistage sampling procedure was used to select five villages and smallholder farmers were obtained through systematic random sampling. Results indicate that smallholder farmers own small land sizes which limit their productivity where the average land size per household is 7 acres and average yield was 1145.14kg per household. The cooperatives had a great contribution to the production of coffee as they enabled members (smallholder farmers) to get inputs at reasonable prices, provide extension services, provide credits at reasonable interest rates, provide coffee processing as well as finding markets on behalf of farmers at regional, national and international levels. Also, coffee farmers were able to innovate a new structure for harmonising the institutional linkages between their cooperative societies (AMCOS and SACCOS) which is called “integrated co-operative model”. The model proves to be one among the key organizational tools for revamping and sustaining agricultural productivity while improving rural smallholder farmer’s livelihoods.