Vulnerabilities of rural agricultural co-operatives in KwaZulu-Natal : a case study of Amajuba District, South Africa.
Dube, Hlengiwe Ntongolozi.
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The use of cooperatives as a development tool is another strategy that is used by the South African government in trying to make all people participate in country’s economic activities, thereby reducing poverty and unemployment. Notwithstanding, there are many challenges that constrain the development of cooperatives. This study is based on the attempt to understand these challenges, as well as the interest to find lasting solutions. Using a case study of Amajuba District in Northern KwaZulu Natal, the study sought to gain understanding of how rural based cooperatives cope with internal and external vulnerabilities. A total of ten cooperative representatives were interviewed to this end. The research found that agricultural cooperatives in the district continue to experience significant problems, which have hindered their development. The main identified reason for the failure of cooperatives in the district has been the lack of interest from members. Other internal challenges include conflict among members and poor management. The study also identified external challenges such as lack of training and skills, lack of access to land, lack of finance and lack of monitoring and evaluation of their initiatives. These challenges, the study has argued, should motivate the government to provide the necessary support to rural based cooperatives, through provision of training, facilitation of credit access inclusive of financial grants, infrastructure and extension of quality services. This support will enable small scale cooperatives to compete with larger economic players in a free market system. The government should also introduce better ways to present the concept of cooperatives to South African communities that will be adding value to the growth of a country.
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