Evaluation of factors influencing membership in coffee Cooperatives in Huye District, Rwanda
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The government of Rwanda adopted a new policy reform to improve coffee industry by building new coffee washing stations, organizing coffee farmers into cooperatives and training local farmers. Despite cooperatives‟ efforts to attract members through the provision of inputs, and other incentives, membership to coffee farmers‟ cooperatives in Rwanda has been reported to be low. This study evaluates the factors influencing membership of cooperatives in Huye District, Rwanda. It uses data from a survey of three cooperatives where a total of 184 farmers were interviewed. Among them, 105 are members of cooperatives and 79 are non members. A probit model was used in data analysis. Descriptive statistics results show that cooperative membership has been declining since 2000. This decline is explained by such requirements of cooperative membership as membership fees, number of coffee trees and coffee certification, lack of awareness of the functionality of the cooperatives, long distance from farmers‟ home to cooperative washing station and some farmers not appreciating the benefit of being coffee cooperative members. Results from probit regression show that factors such as age of household head, household size, distance to cooperative washing station, access to credit, experience in growing coffee and quantity of coffee produced were statistically significant as the factors that influence membership in coffee cooperative. Based on the findings, this study recommends that the Government and managers of the cooperatives should sensitize coffee farmers on the potential benefits of being members of the cooperatives and by facilitating easy access to cooperatives washing stations. Furthermore, the Government should support cooperatives in terms of providing credit and other facilities to act as incentives for coffee farmers to join cooperatives.
University of Nairobi