Project Everest

Work Update

Co-ops and chicken coops: how co-ops can lead to smallholder success

by
Vivienne Smith
Vivienne Smith | Jan 10, 2018 | in Knowledge Base

Many farmers have complained to us that they don’t have enough crops to supply hotels and lose profit when they sell to middlemen, that they don’t have enough money for tractors, water pumps and other machinery, that they can only grow 2 or 3 types of crops. We at FarmEd may be able to solve these issues with farming cooperatives, where farmers group up their crops and their resources.

 

For instance, imagine a village of mainly subsistence farmers living near a hotel. FarmEd pitches permaculture design and hosts workshops at the demo plots (successfully of course) and the farmers start to increase their crop diversity and yield. Now what?

 

Our idea is that they go to Social Consulting, who will provide them with workshops about business plans, record keeping, and most importantly, the benefits of cooperative farming. Then SoCon will refer the village to Earth Care Agency, who set up farming co-ops. The village co-op will then be able to:

  • share resources such as tractors
  • increase their revenue
  • increase the diversity in their diet 
  • increase the resilience of their crops
  • organise the crops so there’s no oversupply of one crop 
  • supply hotels with the farmers’ combined crops and not lose profit

  

For the next 5 years, FarmEd and SoCon will both receive a commission of the farm co-op’s revenue (we estimate 9% for FarmEd).

 

What do you think of this idea? Will village farmers be willing to combine their crops and their income? Please let us know your thoughts! :)

edited on 10th January 2018, 05:01 by Vivienne Smith

Corey Middleton Jan 16, 2018

This sounds like a fantastic idea. I particularly like the ability to pool resources and access better equipment that sole farmers could not afford.

However:

What degree of power would a co-op have over what is grown, who is sold too, what level of payment farmers receive etc? Would that have any implications for the experience farmers have with FarmEd?
For instance, if the blueprint dictates that watermelon is to be grown at time X but the co-op deems they have too much watermelon, who takes priority in that situation?

How would this affect a village containing both farmers who have purchased the FarmEd service and farmers who cannot afford it? Will the be favouritism within the co-op towards farmers with FarmEd?

Is there an avenue for social consulting to work with Fijians to create their own businesses in this space? Rather than working with an extrenal co-op, could this almost be an additional service provided by farmed?

Reply 1

Vivienne Smith Jan 17, 2018

Hi Corey! Thanks for your comment :) of course what you've mentioned are some things to keep in mind throughout the process. We are looking to pilot this idea with one village in particular and with TECA to see how it will go. We had a successful meeting with them on Monday and they seemed fairly keen to go through with a process like this.

To clarify though, TECA is a Fijian agency, and I've attached their brochure to this comment. With trekkers only here 4 months of the year, it will be good for qualified professionals to manage the co-op consistently throughout the whole year.

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Zoe Cahill Jan 23, 2018

Check this out guys.

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Mallory Dobner Jul 1, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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