By Rahab Mbiriti (Statistician)
The total number of agricultural societies and unions registered grew by 4.99 percent, from 5,629 in 2016 to 5,910 in 2017 as presented in the 2018 Economic Survey done by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
The multi-produce agricultural societies have the largest share of societies accounting for 38 percent of the total number of agricultural societies in Kenya. A total of 67 new multi-produce societies were registered in 2017 while the number of dairy societies increased by 11.4 percent over the same period.
The number of Savings and Credit societies grew by 4.8 percent while that of other non-agricultural societies rose by 19.3 percent in 2017.
Agricultural societies and unions go a long way in helping farmers sell their produce into the market, since they act as a bridge between farmers and the market. They are also important for the fact that they offer purchase of farm inputs to farmers on special agreements with the farmers.
They create social relations that enable individuals to achieve goals that they may not otherwise be able to achieve by themselves. For example, agricultural societies and unions can help farmers benefit from economies of scale by lowering their costs of acquiring inputs or hiring services such as storage and transport. They also enable farmers to improve product and service quality and reduce risks.
It is for this reason that the government needs to support these unions and societies if we are to achieve the Food security and nutrition pillar of Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda. This is because these societies are directly involved in food production and processing.
The government also needs to put in place policies that are favorable to these unions and societies to run for the betterment of the members in terms of economic and social development.