As Co-operatives all over the world celebrates today 6th, July, 2019 as the International Day for Co-operatives. We as the Ghana Co-operatives Agricultural Producers and Marketing Association (AGRICOOPS) are committed to champion the course of decent work and the development of Agricultural Co-operatives in Ghana.
The General Secretary of the Agricultural Producers and Marketing Co-operative Association (AGRICOOPS) has said that the failure by the parliament of Ghana to review the Co-operative society Act (N.L.C.D 252) of1968 which is outdated and out of sync with modern trends is seriously affecting the operations of Agricultural Co-operatives.
This has aggravated the poor performance of the agricultural co-operative sector, which is capable of creating millions of sustainable jobs in Ghana. It is within this context that the Ghana Co-operative Agricultural Producers and Marketing Association (AGICOOPS) which was established in 1974 and an affiliate of the Ghana Co-operative Council (GCC), having gone through many challenges and re-organization processes sought the support of the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund) to conduct a Research to identify the challenges in the Co-operative Society Act of 1968 and its effects on the development of Agricultural Co-operatives.
Two days sensitization workshops have been held in Ashaiman in the Greater-Accra region and Sunyani in the Bono region respectively, to disseminate the research finding to various stakeholders and obtain their inputs. Participants included members of Agricultural Co-operatives, Civil Society Organizations, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Secretariat of AGRICOOPS and staff of the Department of Co-operatives.
The research which was disseminated and discussed included the following findings;
- Apart from the unfriendly nature of the current co-operative law, Co-operatives are not admitted to be part of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce.
- That some individuals and organizations see Co-operatives as an avenue to exploit donor funding.
- The current 1968 law is also seen to lack some of the International Co-operative Alliance (I.C.A) principles of independence and democracy in income-generation and profit-making.
According to Madam Christiana Sackey, a member of the Prampram Fish Mongers Co-operative Society and the National Treasurer of AGRICOOPS, “Since our Co-operative Society got incorporated about 33 years ago, we have never been visited by any Co-operative Officer. After we are registered, then we are left to our fate.”In response to this, the Dangbe-West District Co-operative Director, Mr. Agyapong said “It is as a result of our inadequate staff strength, logistics and our being under-resourced”
According to Mr. William Darlie, an Assistant Registrar of Co-operatives at the Sensitization workshop in Accra, about eighty (80) of their staff will be going on retirement next year and there is no replacement plan to recruit new staffs
The Regional Director of the Department of Co-operatives for the Bono East and Ahafo Regions, Robertson Obiri-Adjei said lack of government support and attention means the country cannot derive any meaningful benefits from Co-operative Societies. Over the years, the department continues to suffer neglect, rendering them ineffective in the discharge of their mandate.
According to Mr. Victor Atsu Alorbu the General Manager of the AGRICOOPS membership are starved of the required services from the Department of Co-operatives, thereby unable to practice the Co-operatives tenets sufficiently.
Considering the achievement of Agricultural Co-operatives in Ghana in the early 1960s before the N.L.C.D 252 was enacted as a decree to regulate the Co-operatives, it was reported the Co-operatives were exporting about 40% of the Cocoa produced in Ghana
The Agriculture Co-operative has also achieved the following successes in the past:
- First World Food Day celebrated in Ghana: The celebration of 1stWorld Food Day which culminated into the institution of the Farmers’ Day celebration in Ghana was organized with the support of AGRICOOPS during the mobilization of farmers for the event in October,1986.
- First shipment of pineapple to Common Wealth Exhibition: In 1985 the first shipment of pineapple which exposed the potentials of the export value of the crop was done by AGRICOOPS.
- Mobilization of the rural people for development: At the height of the activities of AGRICOOPS, there were 200,000 primary societies made up of 80 unions with an average of 20 members per society.
- “Operation Feed Yourself”: The success of this agricultural program was mainly due to the acceptance, education and mobilization of the farmers, youth and women groups through the instrumentality of AGRICOOPS.
Going forward, Mr. KyeiBediako of the Ghana National Alliance on Land, Agriculture and Forests (GHANALAF), expressed the need for government to collaborate with Departments and Agencies of State, Civil Society Organizations “to support the review of the Co-operative Act in Ghana, to ensure that farmers are well assisted for their output and contribution to Ghana’s economic growth.”
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