After the successful Cooperative Leadership Forum held in Antananarivo this February, cooperatives in Madagascar are gearing up to make a big impact on the economy.
Breaking away from old ideas about co-ops, training on market-oriented “new generation” cooperatives is reviving the agriculture sector.
“Most of the cooperatives in Madagascar, as well as in other African countries, were originally led by colonial officials and then by the State. The word ‘cooperative’ still has negative connotations for many people, especially farmers,” said Dr. Nicola Francesconi, senior technical advisor at CTA, which co-hosted the conference with NCBA CLUSA.
“We want to change the image of co-ops in Africa and introduce participants to the idea that they can build successful businesses that create jobs while still honoring the underlying principles of cooperation. Producers will always be the principal owners and decision-makers in co-ops,” Francesconi added.
Government ministries are also supportive, as the recent Cooperative Leadership Event allowed for two days of in-depth discussions between government officials and producers themselves, ending with the promise to prepare a new national policy and legal frameworks for cooperatives from Madagascar’s Ministry of Industry and Private Sector Development.
This all comes as NCBA CLUSA steps up co-op development support with a new project for vanilla producers in the region. Over the coming months, CTA and NCBA CLUSA will set up a unit of service providers and management consultations to advise and support cooperatives in key value chains in Madagascar, with the ultimate goal of building co-ops’ own capacity to provide training and extension services for their members.
To learn more about the Cooperative Leadership Event, upcoming initiatives and research on African co-ops, subscribe to the inaugural issue of the Cooperative Business Journal and read the full wrap-up on the conference from EDC here.