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Farmer and cooperative seeing big changes from improved infrastructure and trainings
As his cooperative becomes stronger, Alphonse Mutabazi sees promise in his own farming
Alphonse Mutabazi has been a dairy farmer for nearly 15 years. He dreamed of being able to make his living that way, but his production didn’t bring enough profit, so he did crops farming on the side.

Since he joined the Kora Mworozi Cooperative three years ago, his milk production has tripled, and he has gone from one cow to two. He’s been trained on milk production practices and artificial insemination.

“Dairy farming now helps me sustain my family. I used to only produce about 4 liters per day, now I am at twelve,” Alphonse says.

Alphonse has also seen his cooperative becoming more efficient and stronger over the past three years. In 2015 there were 91 members and now there are 162. Transparency has increased as well.

“By the end of the year, we can share a report of our profits and losses with our general membership. We want their trust,” says Joseph Mukasa, chairman of Kora Mworozi.

The Kora Mworozi Cooperative was started by a small group of farmers with a dream – each farmer had only a single cow, back in 2009. When they were connected to Land O’Lakes Venture37 through the USAID Cooperative Development Program (CDP), they were able to start cooling some of their own milk without sending it off. The improvements kept building on each other.

As the implementor of CDP, Land O’Lakes Venture37 has been working with cooperatives in Rwanda since 2008 in a series of agricultural and cooperative development programs with USAID.

Through the RDCPII Program, Land O’Lakes trained farmers on gender inclusion, artificial insemination and milk quality. Under the most recent of three Cooperative Development Programs (2013-2018), the focus was on trainings on cooperative governance, business planning and financial management.

“Today, this cooperative looks more democratic,” says Alphonse. “We can sit down as leaders and discuss and make changes.”

“Before the trainings from Land O’Lakes, there was overlap of responsibilities,” says Joseph. He has also noted improvements in staff retention and in the auditing process.

And the profits are growing. And the larger, timely payments make a difference.

“Improvements help increase profits for me and my farm as well,” says Alphonse.

It’s just the beginning for Kora Mworozi though. The cooperative has developed a five-year strategic plan, so they can keep the momentum of growth going.

“I would like to see this cooperative help our farmers increase their production,” Joseph says. “And every month give more savings to the farmers.”

Alphonse nods along.

“I would like to move from two cows to five,” Alphonse says.

They’re not just dreams anymore – they’re viable goals.
 
By Laura Schmidt 09/16/2019