By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition. This highlights the increasing role of farmers and agricultural cooperatives to ensure food security and productivity. However, agricultural cooperatives face multiple challenges such as access to land, technology, and especially markets.
To address these challenges, Dutch-founded Agriterra has been at the forefront of professionalizing agricoops in the last two decades by providing business development and advisory services with the help of its network of industry experts or Agripoolers.
Coming from the Dutch agricultural and food top sector, Agripoolers are members of agricultural cooperatives or agro-businesses that possess expertise in cooperative development that they share to their peers in emerging and developing countries. Agripoolers are sent on consulting assignments across Latin America, Africa, and Asia where Agriterra operates in 21 countries with 422 client agricultural cooperatives.
June 24, 2019—Agripooler Jan Kamphof visits the Philippines to advise the Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC) on a cooperative business of setting up a supply chain of yellow corn from farmers to feedmills via port terminals and ships.
Agriterra works with Agripoolers to provide peer-to-peer advisory assignments and training to agricultural cooperatives. Agripooler skills and capacities are matched with the consulting assignments and are endorsed to Business Advisors in country offices who work directly with client cooperatives. Once selected, Agripoolers are sent to their duty station for at least 10 days. The training and advisory services they provide range from business development, leadership and governance, financial management, climate resilience, to gender and youth development.
The end goal is to help improve the agricultural cooperatives’ business operations and distribution in the market that will help them become future proof against evolving challenges in the agriculture sector.
In the Philippines, Agriterra is implementing the Generating Rural Opportunities by Working with Cooperatives (GROW Coop) project funded by USAID. The project works with and capacitates large, successful cooperatives, federations, and private organizations called Local Resource Organizations (LROs) that mentor and capacitate their smaller agricultural cooperative members and partners. As a result, small- and medium-sized cooperatives are able to participate more in agricultural value chains and provide greater income opportunities for farmer members.
Agripoolers have contributed vastly in the results achieved by GROW Coop particularly in the conduct of cooperative assessments (CAs) and various business advice missions .
An example is the Agripooler Jan Kamphof who came to the Philippines to provide advice on the plan of the Soro-Soro Ibaba Development Coopertive (SIDC). Today, SIDC’s yellow corn supply chain is in full swing and flourishing. Amid the lockdown, Jan was back recently in the Philippines again in a cooperative assessment mission with Hans Geuns for the San Isidro Upland Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative or SIUFMULCO, which they conducted online. They assessed the abaca business of SIUFMULCO, as well as its governance, financial management, and reputation management. Their recommendations for the operational improvement of SIUFMULCO formed the basis for the cooperative’s formulation of a new business plan, foremost of which was the recommendation to open membership to the CARAGA region from just the barangay to be able to generate internal capitalization to increase its working capital.
Agripooler Jan Kamphof said:
“It is extremely rewarding to contribute to the Agriterra approach in supporting farmer cooperatives in the Philippines. The level of cooperation and the transparency of the members, board members and management is impressive. The discussions are very insightful and engaging. Working as an Agripooler is truly enriching experience.”
Agriterra Philippines Business Advisor Techu Tumbali said:
“The Dutch agricultural cooperatives are a major contributor of the success of the Dutch agriculture sector and the Agripoolers come from these cooperatives. That they share their expertise, a result of years of experience in the Dutch agriculture sector, to the cooperatives of developing countries in a peer-to-peer scheme makes them the unique selling proposition (USP) of Agriterra. They make Agriterra stand out from the rest of the capacity building service providers.”
Through the tailor-fit recommendations and knowledge imparted by Agripoolers, local agricultural cooperatives especially those in emerging and developing economies are able to develop results-focused impact in their own organizations. As a result, agricultural cooperatives become stronger on operation, financial, and governance levels, thus allowing them to become full-fledged trading partners.
Agriterra Philippines Business Advisor Maik Voets said:
“Agripoolers, together with Agriterra staff, serve as the backbone of Agriterra’s peer-to-peer approach of professionalizing cooperatives. They bring in fresh perspective and their unique experiences which cooperatives can apply in their local cooperative business context.”
To date, Agriterra has deployed 337 peer to peer experts globally and conducted 228 trainings and workshops. Agripoolers will continue to play an important role in Agriterra’s Farmer Focused Transformation approach to achieve its vision of making professional agricultural cooperatives truly an engine of economic progress.
Agriterra provides high quality, and hands-on advice, training and exchange services, to cooperatives and farmer organisations with maximum impact for socio-economically strong and productive rural areas. Agriterra draws on a century of cooperative knowledge in the Netherlands and the Dutch agri-food sector. In 2018, with 117 employees, Agriterra advises 208 cooperatives in 17 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
For more information about GROW Coop, email: email@example.com
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