Table of Contents.
· Why Ushirika is a Big Thing.
· Cooperative and stakeholder conference topics that gave me a glimpse into the future
· Why MazaoHub is a new way to transform Cooperatives into powerhouses?
· How MazaoHub Technology works?
· Business Support and Development systems
There is a common proverb across Africa – ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabantui’ in Zulu – a person is not a person without other people. This proverb has never been truer than when it comes to the untapped potential of Cooperatives in Tanzania and beyond. During the Cooperative Conference with stakeholders held on the 27th of February 2023 at CRDB Bank Headquarters, I was fortunate enough to have a minute to give my opinion and say this phrase: "Ushirika (Cooperatives) is a big thing." Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to elaborate on this.
I am a young person with a strong passion for Cooperatives, and whenever I read the Cooperative Society principles, I tremble and end up saying to myself: Ushirika is a Big thing. As I sit here in front of my computer, I can't help but feel emotional about the untapped potential of rural and farm Cooperatives. These Cooperatives, made up of small-scale producers, are the unsung heroes of our economy. They provide the raw materials for all biggest manufacturing companies, they produce more than 60% of the food we eat everyday. The potential of Cooperatives is not just theoretical; it has been proven in practice. There are countless examples of Cooperatives that have transformed the lives of their members and their communities.
· In India, the Amul Dairy Cooperative has become a global brand, which has created jobs for millions of people.
· Mondragon Corporation: This Spanish cooperative is the largest in the world, with over 80,000 members and 260 companies across a variety of industries. It generates over €12 billion in revenue.
· Land O'Lakes: This American agricultural cooperative has over 3,000 member-owners and generates over $14 billion in annual revenue.
· Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU): This Ethiopian coffee cooperative has over 400,000 members and is one of the largest coffee cooperatives in the world. It has been instrumental in improving the livelihoods of coffee farmers and ensuring fair prices for their produce. It generates over $100 million in revenue.
· Groupe d'Action pour le Progrès et la Paix (GAPP): This Senegalese cooperative has over 400 members and produces and exports organic mangoes. It has been successful in creating sustainable jobs and improving the local economy.
· The Groupe d'Intérêt Économique des Producteurs de Coton (GIE-PC) in Mali has over 11,000 members and generates over $20 million in annual revenue from cotton sales.
· The Nile River Cooperative in Egypt has over 2,000 members and generates over $2 million in annual revenue from citrus fruit sales.
· National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE): This Ugandan coffee cooperative has over 200,000 members and has been instrumental in improving the quality of Ugandan coffee and increasing its value on the global market.
Why Ushirika is a Big Thing.
Before delving further into why Ushirika is a Big thing, allow me to first applaud the Cooperative societies that participated in the Cooperative Conference with stakeholders. . I was very impressed by Karagwe District Cooperative Union Limited (KDCU Ltd). I was greatly pleased with their various projects, including the school project, hotel project, factory project, cooperative farms, and other initiatives.
There are many cooperative societies from Tanzania that serve as examples to be emulated due to their successes, which I have not mentioned yet. As we proceed, I will cite them as examples.
Let’s understand the following,
· First and foremost, Cooperatives are founded on the principles of democratic ownership and control, where each member has an equal say in the decision-making process, regardless of their financial contribution. This democratic structure ensures that the interests of all members are taken into account and that decisions are made for the benefit of the entire community.
· Secondly, Cooperatives promote economic and social development by empowering small-scale producers and marginalized communities. They provide a platform for members to pool resources, access markets, and negotiate better prices for their products. This, in turn, leads to increased income and improved livelihoods for members, their families, and the wider community.
· Thirdly, Cooperatives foster social cohesion and promote community development by providing a forum for members to come together, share ideas, and work towards common goals. They encourage members to take responsibility for their own development and that of their community, leading to increased social capital and stronger, more resilient communities.
· Fourthly, Cooperatives have a significant impact on the economy, contributing to employment creation, poverty reduction, and wealth creation. They generate revenue, which is reinvested in the business or used to fund community development initiatives.
Okay, now let’s get to the point,
What if I told you that these cooperatives have the power to stand up for themselves and become even bigger than the manufacturing companies they supply raw materials?
What if I told you that by harnessing the power of people coming together, these cooperatives could solve some of the greatest challenges facing our society today, such as unemployment?
What if I told you that Cooperatives could be the solution to the inequality that plagues our economy?
What if I told you that cooperatives could empower youth, women and marginalized communities, giving them a voice and a stake in their own economic future?
Ushirika is a big thing, and its potential should not be underestimated. Cooperatives have the potential to become a movement. By banding together, they can leverage their collective power to negotiate better prices for their products, operate as PLC companies, access new markets, and even create their own manufacturing companies more like Bakhresa Industries or Mohamed Enterprises and more. The possibilities are endless.
Imagine a cooperative with 300,000 members, which means 300,000 direct jobs. Let's assume each member employs 2 workers on their farms, which means 600,000 indirect jobs. Now, imagine that this cooperative owns a large factory like the Bakhresa factories, which means there are even more direct jobs. If this cooperative operates like a traded PLC company with professionals employed within it, that means even more jobs. I am just giving an example of one cooperative. I know some people might think it is impossible, but I want to remind them that the power of many people coming together is a force that can move mountains.
Cooperative and stakeholder conference topics that gave me a glimpse into the future
The question to ask is, how could this be possible? Allow me to elucidate by sharing some of the insights I gained from attending the cooperative and stakeholder conference. During the event, I was presented with a glimpse into the future as i was particularly moved by four of the seven key topics presented. These topics were:
During the cooperatives and stakeholder conference, this was the first topic, and the discussion was the need for investment in modern digital systems to increase operational efficiency in cooperatives and regulatory authorities. This is because the use of technology can greatly enhance the efficiency of cooperative operations, making it easier to manage data, members, streamline processes, and improve communication.
Investing in modern digital systems such as MUVU (mfumo wa vyama vya ushirika) to help TCDC to support cooperatives and enable Cooperatives to manage their financial and administrative functions more effectively. This can help to reduce errors, improve transparency, and enhance accountability in cooperative operations.
Another important topic of discussion during the cooperatives and stakeholder conference was the need to establish a national cooperative bank. This is because cooperatives often face difficulties in accessing financing and conducting business, which can hinder their growth and development.
A national cooperative bank can help to address these challenges by providing cooperatives with access to low-interest loans, financial services, and other resources that can help them to operate more effectively. This can help to support the growth and development of strong cooperatives in Tanzania, which can in turn help to drive economic development and improve livelihoods for cooperative members.
Another important topic of discussion during the cooperatives and stakeholder conference was the need to improve policies, laws, and cooperative governance to promote the growth and development of strong cooperatives in Tanzania.
This is because the regulatory environment can have a significant impact on the ability of cooperatives to operate effectively. By improving policies and laws, the government can create a more enabling environment for cooperatives to thrive, while promoting greater transparency, accountability, and good governance in cooperative operations.
The cooperatives and stakeholder conference also focused on the need to encourage a reliable and competitive business-oriented cooperative system that focuses on adding value to production within cooperatives.
This is because cooperatives play a critical role in supporting rural development and agricultural production in Tanzania. By encouraging a business-oriented approach, cooperatives can focus on adding value to the products and services they produce, while promoting greater efficiency and effectiveness in their operations.
This can help to improve the competitiveness of cooperatives, while supporting the growth and development of rural communities. It can also help to promote greater sustainability in cooperative operations, ensuring that they are able to continue to meet the needs of their members and contribute to the broader development of Tanzania.
Why MazaoHub is a new way to transform Cooperatives into powerhouses?
Many cooperatives and AMCOS (Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Societies) are still not investable due to their members(farmers) lack of quality KYC (Know Your Customer) data. Additionally, some cooperatives are unable to sell their farmers' products directly or make a profit from exports because their products are not traceable.
Many cooperatives also lack proper business management data and struggle to operate as profitable enterprises. They face difficulties marketing their farmers' products due to a lack of branding that can attract both local and foreign markets. Furthermore, the management of smallholder farmers' production, tracing, storage, and marketing is hampered by a lack of a proper farm ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and business management system.
As a result, investors are hesitant to invest in cooperatives since there is no accurate business data or proper business management system in place. Even as today, many are struggling to get finance to invest in manufacturing plants. If we want to change the lives of smallholder farmers and help them break free from poverty, we must invest in and support cooperatives to help them operate more efficiently and effectively.
MazaoHub is here to conquer every obstacle and hurdle that cooperative societies face, and we do so with fervor and passion. By collaborating with these societies, we transform them into successful business ventures, bringing them prosperity and growth.
We co-create and customize MazaoHub Technology solutions together with Cooperatives to optimise the way in which they work with smallholders. We take the time to really understand what they need and customize and implement MazaoHub systems that will not only streamline their operations but have the flexibility to add new features in future.
Our platform offers a range of modules to meet the diverse needs of each cooperative, each AMCOS and each farmer with all their extension officers, including:
1. Identity and traceability solutions. Top of Form
Extension officers use MazaoHub to generate unique” QR codes” for each farmer which can be printed onto cards or stickers. These codes can be used as identification or even loyalty cards for farmers. Training attendance, field visits or track input sales or loan for each farmer can be captured by scanning the code using the MazaoHub Mobile App. MazaoHub also integrate biometric technology for those seeking the most sophisticated levels of farmer identification i.e fingerprint solution. QR codes can be attached to boxes or buckets or sacks – or to any item that requires tracking. The location and content / status of these entities can be updated and tracked to provide real-time traceability.
Our goal is to provide cooperatives with quality data that will support their objectives and help them make informed decisions. By updating each farmer's information every season, MazaoHub will also provide financial institutions with a clear understanding of the farmer's profile, making it easier for them to provide the necessary support.
With our farmer profiling module, we are creating a more connected and informed agriculture community, where farmers are empowered and cooperatives can thrive.
· Field Mapping and Plant Identification: MazaoHub's commitment to revolutionizing agriculture goes beyond farmer profiling. Our platform features a field mapping module that uses Google coordinates to accurately map out the size of each farm. This enables cooperative extension officers or farmers to easily measure the size of their farms and identify the plants growing in each field.GPS location functionality includes the ability to map field perimeters and media data (photo and video) can also be captured. Even if there is no mobile data in rural locations, the App will store inputs until it has regained signal. We have designed the App to store core farmer data so that extension workers can access key information to help them do their jobs even if they are offline.
This stage is critical for traceability and monitoring purposes, and allows cooperatives to keep track of the number of farmers, the number of acres each farm owns, and the number of plants owned by each farmer. With this information, cooperatives can make informed decisions and provide the necessary support to their farmers.
Our Agronomy Service Management module is the heart of this technology and provides even more insight into the operations of each farm. With the combination of field mapping and plant identification, cooperatives will have a complete and accurate picture of their operations.
2. Agronomy Management and Farm Activities Monitoring.
This module is a cutting-edge solution designed to support extension officers in providing world-class agronomic services to farmers. With the increasing demand for efficient and effective farming practices, it is imperative that extension officers have access to the right tools to help them deliver the best results.
Unfortunately, the majority of extension officers in cooperatives are still relying on manual paperwork processes to manage their farmers and provide agronomic services. This not only takes up a significant amount of time but also increases operational costs and reduces the overall efficiency of their services.
The MazaoHub App is designed to revolutionize the way extension officers work by providing them with an easy-to-use platform that automates all their agronomic activities. With the Agronomy Service Management Module, extension officers can use their mobile phones to serve thousands of farmers with farm accuracy, insights and data, including real-time monitoring or automatic alerts.
· Extension Officer Work plan.
This is the first module that can be used to make planning and managing fieldwork much easier. A Work Plan module enables extension officers and managers to:
o Design new surveys using MazaoHub easy to use Survey Builder tool.
o These surveys can then be shared with selected extension officers, along with instructions on the number of data sets to collect and the time period in which to do this.
o Extension officer tasks and performance can be monitored on the MazaoHub Management Dashboards to keep track of how field work is progressing.
o Managers can also use the system’s in-app notifications which can send alerts to one or many extension officers
· Farm Budgeting & Forecasting.
The MazaoHub boasts a crucial function of generating budgets and projections for individual farmers based on AI technology. The farmer works alongside an extension officer to create a farming budget specific to the season, taking into account the number of acres, crop types, and other contributing factors. Using field and climatic conditions, as well as other important factors, the MazaoHub farm management system generates budgets and forecasts for efficient monitoring of all production processes and resources.
This allows extension officers to access data and progress of any farmer, and make informed decisions on how best to support them.
During actual farm activities, they can manage, control and monitor farm operations of each farmer in each season, at any time, by following good agricultural practices (GAP).
· GAP Management
MazaoHub is a comprehensive tool that offers farmers the ability to collaborate with extension officers, enabling them to manage all aspects of their farm activities with ease. This digital platform enables farmers to monitor and track the cost involved in their farming activities, keep track of all expenses, the amount of fertilizers used, identify and manage pests and soil health, and many others.
The GAP Management module, which is one of the most remarkable features of MazaoHub, empowers farmers to follow specific procedures and good agricultural practices required to achieve desired outcomes based on the particular crop. The module is designed to ensure that farmers implement all critical aspects and guidelines in each of the following activities:
a) Farm Preparation: This involves the necessary steps to prepare the land for farming activities, including clearing, ploughing, and preparing seedbeds. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep a record of everything done, including all the related costs.
b) Soil Preparation: This includes assessing soil health and preparing the soil to ensure it is conducive to the specific crop being planted. MazaoHub enables farmers to follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
c) Proper Planting Distance: This involves determining the ideal spacing between plants to ensure optimal growth and yield. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
d) Irrigation Management: Farmers can effectively manage irrigation to ensure that their crops receive sufficient water for growth and development. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
e) Fertilizer Application: This includes determining the correct type and amount of fertilizer required for optimal plant growth and health. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
f) Pest and Disease Management: Farmers can identify and manage pests and diseases that pose a threat to their crops. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
g) Pruning and Training: This involves training plants to grow in a particular direction to achieve maximum yield and productivity. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
h) Pre-Harvest and Post-Harvest Handling: This involves taking the necessary steps to ensure that crops are harvested and stored correctly to maintain their quality. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs.
i) Crop Rotation: Farmers can manage crop rotation, which is essential to maintain soil health and fertility. With MazaoHub, farmers can follow good agricultural practices and keep track of everything done, including all the related costs
MazaoHub also automatically produces a traceability report for every activity done on the farm based on the above activities and much more. This feature ensures that farmers can monitor progress, identify areas that require improvement, and make data-driven decisions that can positively impact their farming activities.Top of Form
3. The Crops Collection, Movement and Traceability Management.
This is a cutting-edge module that empower COOPERATIVES to effectively manage and monitor the harvest and movement of each farmer's Crops. With the use of data from the previous module, COOPERATIVES will have access to the following information:
With this module, COOPERATIVES will have a comprehensive solution that will enable them to make informed decisions, manage their operations efficiently, and provide farmers with the support they need to grow and succeed.
4. Global Sourcing Hub of Food & Agriculture
The Global Sourcing Hub of Food & Agriculture is a critical component of the Mazao Hub Farm Management Module. This innovative solution is designed to address the challenges faced by businesses in sourcing food and agricultural products and at the same time enable Cooperatives and their farmers to get access to direct market.
MazaoHub provide advanced capabilities to create a centralized platform for the safe and reliable sourcing of products from cooperatives representing rural farmers.
One of the key benefits of this system, is that it provides buyers with extensive market intelligence, allowing them to make more informed decisions. The data is derived from the agronomy service management system module, providing buyers with full traceability reports and other important information about the products they are sourcing. This level of detail helps to minimize the risk of fraud, food safety incidents, and other issues that can arise in the sourcing process.
The Global Sourcing Hub of Food & Agriculture is an essential tool for businesses looking to source food and agricultural products from Cooperative. By leveraging the advanced technologies and expertise of the Mazao Hub, businesses can tap into a wealth of information and resources, empowering them to make better decisions, reduce risk, and enhance the sustainability of their sourcing operations. Whether you are a multinational corporation, a small business, or an organization looking to source food and agricultural products, MazaoHub Global Sourcing Hub of Food & Agriculture is the solution you need.
In this case, Cooperatives are now connected directly to the market using MazaoHub Crop sourcing tool.
Business Support and Development systems
Our goal is to provide comprehensive support to cooperatives in order to help them become profitable enterprises that attract potential investors. We firmly believe that technology is the key to unlocking accurate data about these cooperatives, and we leverage this technology to offer business support and connect cooperatives with global investors.
To achieve this, we have established strong relationships with business professional networks, investors, buyers, and other key players in the industry. By working closely with them, we provide investment write-ups, business events, and cooperative business marketing forums that invite more investors and businesses to engage with these cooperatives.
Our focus is on helping each partner cooperative establish manufacturing plants in partnership with more investors, which in turn will enable them to expand their exports and create more opportunities for their member farmers. We offer real-time data to investors to enable them to make informed decisions about investing in cooperatives, and we use our expertise to transform these cooperatives into profitable enterprises.
Our ultimate aim is to help these cooperatives achieve long-lasting success and prosperity for themselves and their member farmers. We are committed to providing ongoing support and guidance to ensure that they achieve their goals, and we believe that our technology-driven approach will enable them to become investable and profitable enterprises that benefit everyone involved