International Day of Cooperatives, celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July, honors the vital role cooperatives play in fostering inclusive and sustainable growth. This year’s theme, “Cooperatives Build a Better Future for All,” aligns with global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Recognized by the United Nations for over a century, this day underscores the contributions of cooperatives to economic and social development, particularly among marginalized communities. We commemorate this day to highlight the achievements of cooperatives worldwide and to inspire further collaboration and innovation towards building a more equitable and resilient future. In celebration of the day, we turn the spotlight on the inspiring story of the Dankwali Cluster Rice Farmers Cooperative Association (DCRFCA) in Kebbi State. Discover how collective triumph and strategic partnerships have led to remarkable success and sustainable growth for this group, empowering local farmers and transforming their community.

A Visionary Leader: Abubakar Adamu

Abubakar Adamu, born in Argungu, Kebbi State, and a rice farmer for over 30 years, has been pivotal in forming DCRFCA. “Initially, before the intervention of the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and the Kebbi State Government (KBSG), I was an average smallholder farmer producing rice just to cater for my family needs,” says Abubakar. His leadership and dedication brought farmers together to form the cooperative in 2012. With further strategic partnerships like the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program (ATASP-1), DCRFCA has made significant strides in enhancing agricultural productivity.

The Genesis of DCRFCA

DCRFCA was established to address common challenges, such as water for irrigation. “The first effort made by the cooperative was the creation of water canals from the main river to our respective farmlands,” explains Abubakar. Although initially ineffective, this led to an innovative pipeline system that now successfully irrigates their crops.

Impacting the Community

DCRFCA’s contributions to the local community are manifold:

  • Employment Creation: “Approximately 500-1000 people are hired to work on the farm, thereby reducing unemployment within the community.
  • Access to Mechanization: “The acquisition of power tillers and threshers enabled members and non-members to access affordable mechanization services, reducing labor costs and increasing productivity.”
  • Infrastructure Development: “With our partnership with ATASP, one kilometer of road was constructed for easy conveyance of farm produce.”
  • Mentorship and Training: “The cooperative farm serves as a model where other farmers from neighboring communities learn new farming techniques, especially on good agronomic practices.”

Success Stories: Changing Lives

DCRFCA’s impact on individual lives is profound. “Due to the increase in yield and income of individual members, the overall standard of living has improved. Currently, most of our members can sponsor their children to study even up to the university level,” shares Abubakar. The cooperative’s profit-sharing mechanism and input distribution have not only improved living standards but also fostered a sense of ownership and belonging.

Contributing to the SDGs

DCRFCA’s initiatives align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in promoting economic growth and sustainability. “The cooperative promotes self-dependency among members through its revolving loan, input distribution, and profit-sharing mechanism,” says Abubakar.

Sustainable Farming Practices

Thanks to its partnership with USADF, KBSG and DDI, DCRFCA has embraced good agronomic practices (GAP), resulting in sustainable and efficient rice production.

Overcoming Challenges

Despite challenges like water scarcity for irrigation, inadequate farm inputs, fluctuating input prices, and pest attacks, DCRFCA has shown resilience. “The cooperative addressed the water problem by laying pipes across the cluster,” notes Abubakar.

Empowering Through Partnerships

In 2016, DCRFCA received substantial support from USADF and the Kebbi State Government (KBSG), and technical assistance from Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI). This partnership aimed to improve the cooperative’s financial and technical capacities, addressing issues such as weak financial management and inadequate business skills. “This partnership provided financial and technical support, equipping members with essential skills and knowledge through a series of outreach activities,” explains Abubakar.

The support from USADF, KBSG and DDI facilitated the purchase of modern farming tools and equipment, and various capacity-building initiatives, including training on good agricultural practices, processing, seed production, entrepreneurship, and business management. These initiatives have enhanced farming techniques, diversified revenue streams, and ensured resilience in the face of challenges.

Fostering Community and Cooperation

DCRFCA fosters a sense of community and cooperation among its members through honesty, trust, transparency, and financial discipline. “Our collective spirit is the backbone of our success and sustainability,” says Abubakar.

A Message of Unity and Progress

On this International Day of Cooperatives, Abubakar Adamu advocates for cooperative farming. “The journey of Dankwali Rice Farmers Cooperative Association exemplifies the transformative impact of collective action, strategic partnerships, and innovative approaches to agricultural development. We sincerely express our appreciation and gratitude to USADF and DDI for their support and technical assistance,” he says.

As we celebrate #CoopsDay, let us draw inspiration from DCRFCA’s journey and recommit to building a better future for all through the power of cooperatives.

Click here for the complete interview with Abubakar Adamu and more insights into DCRFCA’s journey.