Financial Transparency

ZambiaCottonOptAnother problem with cooperatives and farmers organizations is the need for financial transparency which entails an understanding of accounting, both by managers and members. The latter because members need to make certain the managers are not “cooking the books”. Unfortunately, accounting skills are an educational skill requiring specialized accounting instruction, which is often not readily available in smallholder communities. Unfortunately there is something about accounting that goes against most human nature and it is something that most people avoid or at least procrastinate about, ultimately trusting other to take care of the tedious effort. Within smallholder communities this provides opportunities for cooperative managers to abuse their trust. The MAMCOS cooperative in Madibira, Tanzania is an example where accounting irregularities became the norm and the participatory democratic process to protect against them were put aside by the government seconded management. Also, how often have there been reports or at least rumors of cooperative managers taking off with the cooperatives funds forcing the cooperative to disband.

Last Revised: 2 Nov 2005

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