Assessing the performance of smallholder farmer cooperatives ‒ a member’s perspective: a case study of Mogalakwena Municipality (Limpopo Province)
The main objective of the research was to assess the performance of agricultural cooperative from the members’ perspective, using the tool model that will assist my research with the cooperative internal and external factors affecting the performance of the smallholder agricultural cooperative. The state and other stakeholders considered cooperative as the strategy that will stimulate economic development and reduce poverty, which was supported also by other policy documents like (NDP) National Development Commission and (CRDP) Comprehensive Rural Development Programme. Internationally evidence shows that cooperative are among institutions that can help farmers to address numerous challenges that include economies of scale and market participation. Nationally, some studies were done by other researchers on cooperative performance and the results indicate that accountability and lack of transparency (poor governance) were the cause of poor performance of the smallholder agricultural cooperatives. Other researchers have discovered that stringent marketing requirements and limited provision of inputs are the cause of smallholder cooperative poor performance. Various approaches were done to address the challenges which include the performance of agricultural cooperative and the approach to analyse the member’s satisfaction in smallholder agricultural cooperatives. Smallholder cooperatives reputation is not convincing or with poor return on investment especially in South Africa, which necessitate studies to explore the level of member’s satisfaction of the smallholder agricultural cooperative as expected from the board of directors. The questionnaire was developed to assist in the research and a sample of eight collective actions in Mogalakwena Municipality (Limpopo Province) involved in small livestock; vegetable production; grain crops and mixed farming were interviewed. Questionnaire had ratings from 1 to 5. The questions were translated to farmer’s home language and given an opportunity to respond on questionnaire by crossing the relevant score. The questionnaire used was based on the FORCE (Farmer Organisation Reviewing Capacity and Entrepreneur) tool model and the areas of study include: the membership base; governance and internal democracy; management of human and financial resources; collaboration and alliance; service provision to members; production and production risk, and the relationship between farmers and buyers and default with supporting statements per area of study or performance area. The results on members’ perception of the Mapela smallholder agricultural cooperative were analysed from the cooperative members and the board of directors/management. The results of the eight performance areas indicate that governance, collaboration and alliance, Production and production risk, relationship among farmers and buyers and default scored above the average and membership, management of human and financial resources and service provision to members scored below the average. Despite that government have spent resources to develop cooperatives and there was no research conducted before in Mogalakwena that focus internal factors affecting the performance of the cooperative. The performances of the cooperative in all the assessed areas have scored below 50%, which means unhealthy business feedback for cooperative members and members of the cooperative not enjoying the benefits smallholder collective actions.