Some farm or water management activities can be faced individually or in cooperation with third parties. This module describes and compares both solutions, showing some examples.
The aim is to identify the main cooperation instruments so that the farmer can choose the option that best suits his needs. The approach is simple, straightforward and comparative.
Thus, we will analyse instruments such as cooperatives, irrigation communities or participatory financing.
3.1. Cooperation vs. do it on your own
3.2. Cooperation: SWOT
4.1. Some examples on farming cooperation
4.2. An example on water cooperation
Two or more actors agree (through a formal or informal deal) to do something (i.e. share information, support technical and management training, provide capital and/or market information). Both parties get a mutual benefit, and no one has a dominant position in the deal
Cooperation among farmers and other rural development actors allows, for example:
Formal cooperation(a written agreement or contract among the parties defines the objects, rules and obligations of cooperation; companies, cooperatives, consortia or other economic entities can even be set up) and informal cooperation (without a contract).
Cooperations range from the simplest (sharing and combining work capacity, land, plants, machinery, irrigation infrastructure, optimising production processes) to establishing a standard service structure to share the costs of activities that cannot be managed individually (large infrastructures, consultancy, quality certification, training, standard sale of products, etc.).
Traditionally, what makes cooperation so different from any other business activity is the principles they are based on. If we consider the principles established in cooperatives as the desirable basis for any cooperation, these principles define and guide the cooperative instruments, ensuring:
Four traditional general principles distinguish cooperative instruments from any other type of business:
The application of the following six steps can prevent the weakening of cooperative forms:
Voluntary and negotiable investments. The partners should be able to choose the investments to make through voluntary purchasing under the principle of consensus. It should be possible to assign an individualised value proportional to the degree of participation of each member.
Main economic benefits of cooperation in agriculture:
Main social benefits of cooperation in agriculture:
Why is better to cooperate
Why is better to do it yourself
BONUS: Factors that support and encourage cooperation
“Inside the farm gate” collaboration
“Outside the farm gate” collaboration
AGRIWATER Project Case Studies. https://learning.agriwater.eu/case-studies
B.C. Ministry of Agriculture (2018): Agricultural Co-operatives: A start-up guide.
Cooperatives Europe. https://coopseurope.coop/
FAO (1998). Agricultural Cooperative Development. A manual for trainers.
USDA (2011): Understanding Cooperatives: How to Start A Cooperative.
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