What is the state of agri co-op sectors around the world?

The International Co-operative Agricultural Organisation met to assess the sector

The executive committee of the International Co-operative Agricultural Organisation met in Turkey last month to discuss new developments in the sector.

This included continued growth in India’s dairy sector, which is set to reach to Rs 9.4tn (US$145.7bn) by 2020. The country accounts for 19% of the world’s milk production. Other sectors are also growing, and the government has invested of Rs 50,000 crore (US$7.7bn) to develop permanent irrigation solutions for drought, and a mentorship programme for agri start-ups.

From Malaysia, Dato’ HJ. Kamarudin Bin HJ. Ismail, vice president of ANGKASA, introduced the federation’s long-term plan. Oil palms account for 74% of the country’s agricultural crop, followed by rubber (14.63%), coconut (1.2%) and cocoa (0.22%). Agriculture is the third-largest export income for Malaysia, with palm oil and rubber making up 8% of the total export income.

The government is considering expanding its biofuel B5 programme increasing the mix of 5% of palm methylester into petroleum diesel to 10%.

In Turkey, 172 new co-ops related to agriculture were formed last year. The country is home to 13,315 agricultural co-ops with 4 million members. Agricultural sales co-ops are an important part of the sector, with 447 active co-ops operating in 2017. These purchase 38.8% of the oil sunflower produced in the country, 16.8% of the dry grape production, 10.5% of the mass cotton production, 9.2% of the olive production, 7.5% of the fig production and 9.2% of olive oil production is purchased. A new action plan is being drawn up to increase the sector’s visibility.

From Japan, Hironori Hijioka, executive director of agri-co-op umbrella body JA-Zenchu, told how the organisation, is working to engage more with its member co-ops. Around 36.8% of the Japanese primary agricultural co-ops have placed a stronger emphasis on farm guidance, sales and purchases. The organisation will continue to focus on training employees to facilitate member enrolment, prepare materials to let members know about the role of primary agricultural co-ops, and increase door-to-door visits.

Mieczysław Grodzki and Adam Piechowski of the National Cooperative Council of Poland said the number of agricultural co-ops in their country had fallen from 2,873 in 2016 to 2,814 in 2018. During past year the council has worked with parliament on a bill which would grant farmers exemption from property tax and corporate income tax. The council is also working to help reduce some of the regulatory burdens related to setting up co-operative producers’ groups as well as accessing grants from EU funds.

In Brazil, agri co-ops started a campaign called “We are co-op”, to highlight the co-operative enterprise model. The national co-operative federation, OCB, also launched a Catalogue of Export Co-operatives, listing Brazilian co-ops engaged in international trade.

Ivan Asiimwe, CEO of Uganda Cooperatives Alliance, presented a regional report from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda and Kenya.

In Ethiopia the movement hosted the fifth National Co-operative Exhibition on 8-9 February, bringing together representatives from Uganda’s co-op movement in an exchange of experience.

In Madagascar, the USA’s National Co-operative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) has facilitated training for 841 vanilla farmers.

Morocco and Malawi are also strengthening agricultural co-operation via a formal agreement, with the later looking to learn from the former’s irrigation systems and technology.

Co-ops in Africa are expected to benefit from a partnership between African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF) and social investor Oikocredit, which will allocate US $10m to finance agriculture and renewable energy SMEs and co-ops serving low-income populations in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Zambia, women launched Zambia Women in Agriculture Cooperative Society, which deal in fresh fruit and vegetables.

In Kenya, dairy co-operatives are playing a key role in reducing the cost of milk marketing and enabling farmers to achieve higher returns.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN is scaling up its work with AgriCord, a global alliance, with a new five-year agreement to help farmers gain access to markets and adapt to extreme weather conditions.

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