Butare — Capacity building through training of Butare farmers has been identified as priority in the province's agricultural development initiatives.
The number of agricultural cooperatives in Rwanda, particularly within the coffee sector, is growing. As opportunities for securing international markets are underway, membership within the cooperatives is rapidly increasing.
The leadership and management components of cooperatives are faced with complex challenges, the greatest among them being the establishment of long-term self-sustainable organizations. For their development, cooperative management and leadership must engage in the best practices of personnel management, transparency, membership development, strategic planning, and effective communication, among other issues.
"A healthy, vibrant, and well-managed cooperative movement will mobilize its members more easily to produce more, thus increasing rural incomes and making significant steps toward poverty eradication," noted Samuel Goff, a graduate of Texas A&M University, who is currently in Butare working with the PEARL project.
Goff has worked in Mozambique's agricultural cooperative development projects. The general objective of his work while in Rwanda is to create curricular module(s) dealing with the management of producer cooperatives. Though the curriculum may have applicability to other cooperatives in Rwanda, the curriculum will be directed toward the cooperatives within the PEARL project. The development process and implementation of the curriculum is a vital effort toward improving the self-management of the cooperatives. It is anticipated that educational modules on cooperative management will strengthen self-reliance and be conducive to long-term sustainability.
"Farmers especially coffee growers have responded well to the new skills being introduced on good leadership and governance in cooperatives management. Coffee growers and members of cooperatives from Butare, Kibuye, Gikongoro and Cyangugu have all participated actively," comments Samuel
Samuel Goff will be collaborating with the Agriculture faculty members of the NUR to interview producers in coffee cooperatives about management issues of importance to the cooperative members. The information gathered from the interviewees will serve as the basis of course(s) on cooperative management, which may include themes such as leadership development, planning, and organizational development, among other issues.
Having participated in all of the curriculum module(s), cooperative leadership and members will be able to; State the principles of cooperatives, lead in participatory training techniques, promote effective communication in cooperative organizations, and engage in cooperative group development, including leadership.
In addition, there would be tangible results that may benefit the other and future projects: The process of curriculum development will yield insights into possible improvements in the methodologies for future curriculum development efforts in Rwanda.