Updated: Jul 9, 2019
A cluster refers to a group of farmers who collaborates on group buying for input requirements, joint selling to the same buyer and joint negotiations and sharing of implements.
Creation of clusters can either independently by a group of farmers in the same location or by a facilitator (Government, private business or NGOs) to boost agricultural production and profit in a location.
The size of the cluster is often determined by the facilitator. Clusters can include several actors across the value chain.
This approach to farming is dramatically changing the narrative of agriculture from a barely profitable back-breaking activity, especially for rural farmers into a hugely profitable venture.
STEPS TO CREATE A CLUSTER FARM.
1. The Lead Farmer / Facilitator
This is the farmer/organisation that creates a cluster. The lead farmer/facilitator identifies the goal and the farmers needed to achieve the goal.
2. Decide the Objectives
This addresses the aim of the cluster, the goals, objectives and the definition of success for the cluster. Objectives can be decided individually by the lead farmer/facilitator or together as a cluster.
for example, in 2016 the Jigawa state government in Nigeria, decided to increase commercial agriculture among rural farmers in the state, hence initiated different clusters around the state focused on rice, wheat and two other crops.
3. Invite other Farmers
After the objectives have been set, it is time to invite farmers or other actors in the value chain. A cluster comprises of different farmers, and they contribute to the success of the goal. This step is crucial.
Create a system to identify farmers or actors based on the objectives of the cluster and location.
Please note, clusters are more successful if they're located close to each other.
4. Discuss Objectives and Plans
The lead farmer/facilitator explains the idea to the group and shares the objectives. Together the group discuss challenges and opportunities each member has and how the cluster can help solve the challenges and maximize the opportunities.
This meeting can either be a formal or informal one. The aim is to get everybody on board and extensively discuss the cluster.
5. Determine needs for Success
Outline the needs for success for the cluster. Identify challenges to success within the cluster, and solutions to them. For example, the Jigawa state government identified improved farm inputs, mechanization, access to markets and knowledge sharing as key to the success of the cluster approach project.
6. Build a Cluster Model
If every invited farmer agrees to the cluster, it is time to build a model. The model should detail the extent of the partnership, requirement of each farmer, sharing principles, funding and every other detail regarding the cluster.
The model will guide the relationships and expectations within the cluster as every member understands the role they play and the benefits they stand to enjoy as part of the cluster.
The model should also state clearly the administrator of the cluster if it is farmers-based.