Co-operatives and peace: Sri Lanka and Rwanda

In Sri Lanka a dairy co-operative development project joined farmers from different ethnicities including Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims. Due to the civil war, many farmers had been displaced...

In Sri Lanka a dairy co-operative development project joined farmers from different ethnicities including Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims.

Due to the civil war, many farmers had been displaced and needed help to raise themselves out of poverty. Land O’Lakes programme helped them achieve this through dairy co-operatives.

In partnership with Sri Lankan organisation, CIC Agribusiness, Land O’Lakes formed 56 milk producer groups within four co-ops, comprising over 4,100 farmers, providing them with the training needed to produce adequate quantities of milk.

The three-year programme, which was funded by USAID, provided essential financial grants, technical assistance, and training to participating program farmers, aiming to improve on-farm productivity by mobilising farmers into groups that fed into milk collection centres, which were added to CIC’s supply chain. The programme ended in 2012 and helped around 4,000 participating households increase milk production. Farmers increased their annual income by 75% as a result of the programme.

President Kagame speaking at the Cooperatives #MeetthePresident event in Kigali in July
President Kagame speaking at the Cooperatives #MeetthePresident event in Kigali in July

 

Although 20 years have passed since the Rwandan genocide, the country remains one of the poorest in the world. In 2000, president Paul Kagame announced the launch of a new development programme designed to help the country achieve middle income status by 2020 and to accelerate annual GDP growth to 10% over the period 2013-2018.

Co-operatives are regarded as key contributors to achieving the Vision 2020. A keen supporter of co-operatives, President Kagame has on numerous occasions spoken highly about the important role played by co-operatives in promoting unity and reconciliation.

Co-operatives are currently serving 2.7m members, many of them living in rural areas. The Rwandan government is also looking at the possibility of establishing a Co-operative Bank to enable co-operative members to gain access to finance.

Read more about co-operatives and peace in our special collection.

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