To test the development hypothesis that cooperative alliances can provide a commercially sustainable supply chain for distribution of improved hybrid maize seed in Rwanda and Tanzania, the Seed Cooperative Alliance (SCA) project conducted a series of interrelated diagnostic, strategic planning and capacity building services.
The SCA project, which is part of the USAID Cooperative Development Program (CDP), is a Public-Private Alliance (PPA) that leverages matching contributions from the broader Land O’Lakes, Inc. enterprise, the Zimbabwean firm SeedCo and local cooperatives.
Focusing efforts in Rwanda and Tanzania, project work included: 1) a market feasibility assessment; 2) a strategic fit assessment with local agricultural cooperatives; and 3) partnership alliance meetings with high-potential cooperative alliance partners. Although the ultimate goal of these potential alliances was the commercial distribution of new maize seed varieties; formal product testing, validation and commercialization was not within the scope of the activity. A primary outcome of this work was the dissemination of processes, tools and learning from the diagnostic and strategic planning work to cooperatives and their partners, resulting in more and better cooperative alliances in the future. This information was collected into a Cooperative Alliance Facilitator Guide.
The project also significantly bolstered cooperative performance through capacity building and learning events during the project duration. As part of the project efforts, we conducted cooperative coaching, coop-to-coop study tours, gender sensitization and communication training for cooperative management and board. In addition, the project undertook research to better understand the influence of social capital and networks within cooperative alliance partners.
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