HELPING PEASANT FARMERS IN NIGERIA THROUGH AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES: LESSONS FROM JAPAN AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE MODEL
Japan agricultural cooperative known as JA in Japan is the citadel of small farmers’ livelihoods. For almost 60 years, JA was the driving force behind small farmer-supportive policy in Japan. The reverse is the case in Nigeria where agricultural cooperatives are not tailored towards organized support; therefore Nigerian farmers face the brunt of the market, policy and economy. While there are emerging challenges for JA, its relevance remains undaunted in marketing, farm guidance, credit, insurance, and subsidy among others. The paper examines the need for adapting the JA agricultural cooperative model in Nigeria and the needed institutional contexts. Alleviating rural poverty in Nigeria requires building farmers capacity through cohesive farmers’ organizations that will act as channels for introducing agricultural technologies for production and processing, gaining access to quality inputs, credit and technology, reduce farm gate losses and enhance harmers access to market and generally improving their capacity for negotiating better deals in the political system and gaining more control over their socioeconomic position in the Nigerian social system. The JA model of agricultural cooperatives is a relevant case study to building an organization that would meet farmers’ needs and help in agricultural development.