Wasimi, Ondo East Local Government Area, Ondo State, Nigeria. Odode Cooperative Multipurpose Union (CMU) was registered in early 1958 as a marketing union in Ondo State, Nigeria. It had a membership of over 650 cocoa farmers. The union traded over 5000 metric tons of cocoa. The union was doing well and making progress. Odode CMU had a warehouse, fuel station and office building. However, all development ended in 1986 when the cocoa trade was liberalized in Nigeria. The cocoa board was abolished and no protection for the members of the cooperatives was provided. As a result, membership dropped from 650 to 120 cocoa farmers and the volume of cocoa traded fell from 5000 to 20 metric tons a year.
When the WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program (WCF/CLP) started in 2009, program implementers faced a tough challenge in bringing this farmer organization back to life. After many hours of training and support, Odode CMU is back on the path to growth. Membership has increased from 120 to 480 farmers and the volume traded from 20 tons to 105 tons. The Union has hired a competent manager and the account books are being used. ODODE is now linked to a reputable exporter in Nigeria that provides access to agri-inputs for members. The democratic life of the cooperative is also stronger. New officers have been elected, the board meets on a regular basis and several committees are operational. The latest achievement by the farmer organization was obtaining its registration under the UTZ certification program.
Pius Akinmubori, who was elected president of the group for a second term, told us the following, “Through collective trading, I now obtain good prices for my cocoa. I have benefited through input support from a local exporter, which I will pay back through cocoa supplied to it. The interest rate is reasonable when compared with borrowing on the open market. Farmer Field School (FFS) has also trained me to use fewer chemicals and convinced me of the importance of cleaning and pruning on my farm. I sold more than 5 metric tons of graded cocoa to the union last trading season compared to the one ton I supplied in the past. My confidence has increased by being a union member. And I have more income.”