Building a network of Agripool experts

21-03-2016 Approximately one hundred farmers, ranchers and people involved in the cooperative sector from all over Spain met on 10 March 2016 in Madrid for the first-ever Agripoolers Meeting organised by Acodea. This agri-agency was founded by UPA and Fademur and is part of the AgriCord network. It is currently building a network of Agripoolers who will be involved at a regular basis in advisory projects in developing countries.

"Peer-to-peer cooperation in the primary sector is an essential element in the promotion of sustainable progress in the rural areas of developing countries." This is one of the conclusions of the First Acodea Agripoolers Meeting that was held today in Madrid, during which approximately one hundred representatives of ranchers and various producers' and farmers' organisations and cooperatives from all sectors shared their opinions and experiences.

Kees Blokland, Acodea's Managing Director, mentioned that the organisation he leads is currently concentrating its activities in Nicaragua, and that during the following months it will also be working in Cuba. "There's a lot to do there", he said. "We will soon carry out working missions in this Caribbean republic in order to provide advice to Cuban producers."

Manuel Nogales, an Acodea liaison officer, considers this to be "a historic moment" for development cooperation in the primary sector. "There's a lot that we can do, and these kinds of meetings are a very important step on the road to strengthen the organisation of farmers and ranchers in Spain, and ultimately to enable the provision of advice and support to our peers in Africa, Asia and Latin America."

Cees van Rij, who works in Agriterra, mentioned that "There's enough demand and funds are also available [for cooperation work], but what's lacking at the moment is will and determination; the world needs to understand that producers' organisations must become stronger if the countryside is to progress." He also said that "Sometimes, cooperatives and farmers' organisations from developing countries are not aware of the power that they could wield if they became better organised." Agriterra aims to provide advisory services to one million connected and organised farmers in 2020.

Acodea also carries out its work based on the premise that sustainable production systems and methods need to be encouraged, which is a criterion that it applies throughout its projects. This organisation mentioned that there are various reasons why organic production and sustainability as an answer to climate change are sometimes more common in developing countries than in Europe.

The women's federation, Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres Rurales (Fademur), which is also a founding member of Acodea, reminded participants that the gender perspective and the struggle for equality must also be kept in mind when organisations draft development cooperation plans. In this sense, Fademur representatives mentioned that "Women must also participate in the cooperatives and producers' organisations that will be set up in rural areas, and we will defend this right as an organisation."

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