The Gowe Irrigation co-operative society and its role in Sanyati (Zimbabwe), 1967-1969

11 January 2011

The paper focuses on the origins and development of agricultural co-operative societies in Zimbabwe since 1954 with particular reference to Gowe-Sanyati and evaluates their role in facilitating the channelling of production inputs to farmers and the marketing of their produce. It examines the criteria for eligibility to membership of such associations, namely who could belong and who could not, as well as their administrative structures and practices. In addition, the paper evaluates the societies’ impact on their members, on African development and on the national economy. In 1954 the Government of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) began investigations on the need for co-operative societies (co-ops) in order to promote African development through facilitating the acquisition of production inputs and the marketing of agricultural products. In 1956, the first co-operative society was established, while the main focus of this paper’s interest, the Gowe Irrigation Co-operative Society of Sanyati in the northwestern part of the country, was established in 1967. Established by a government agency known as the Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR), now the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), the co-operative society flourished and became a model for the distribution of agricultural inputs and credit to African farmers. It collapsed in 1969 due to a number of factors, among them poor management and corruption.