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Cooperatives: An Alternative to the World Economic and Food Crisis

July 21, 2012 (TSR) - A process of cooperatives is currently an alternative for development in face of the world economic crisis and neo-liberalism in the current reality of Latin America and the Caribbean, said Dr. of Economic Sciences Claudio Alberto Rivera.

Speaking at the 8th International Meeting on Accounting, Auditing and Finances, Rivera pointed out that the participants to the event have evaluated experiences in countries like Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Latin America’s largest farmer cooperative has 268,000 members. In Campo Mourao, Parana, located in southern Brazil, a five-day field day is held annually for farmers from three different states.

Take Brazil’s rainfall, for example, who will impact global food prices this year. Mato Grosso, Brazil’s number one soybean-producing state, is experiencing a 7% harvest delay, according to the latest figures from IMEA, a Mato Grosso state agency.

As of the end of January, Mato Grosso, the number one soy-producing state, had only 2.8% of soybeans harvested vs. 9.9% last year. For Parana, 1% of the soy is harvested vs. 17% by the end of February last year. And these Parana farmers will not be getting in the field anytime soon. For corn, Parana farmers had 2% of the corn harvested last year, at this time. They harvested 23%, last year, by the end of February.

Research shows that southern Brazil soybean farmers can boost annual revenue by 15%-20% by diversifying into the cattle business. The cattle’s manure increases yield and the meat sales provide extra income. Over 1,000 of the COAMO farmer cooperative have added cattle to their farm operation. Furthermore, when the farmers cannot get market information, the cooperative keeps the members informed of the prices.

President of the Scientific Society of the National Economists and Accountants Association, the expert said that Cuba is preparing legal regulations that will allow extending these organizations to other sectors outside agriculture.

He added that, although the state firm is the main engine of the economy, the cooperatives are vital for its development.

On its part, Jesus Cruz Reyes, professor and researcher of the School of Economy of the University of Havana stressed the importance of the second level cooperatives as a superior scale to the primary ones, for the opportunity of offering a better coordination and cohesion among them.  He added that their goal is to produce resources, and provide logistic support, training and consultation, among other advantages.

Camila Harnecker, from the Cuban Economy Research Center, emphasized the contribution of the organizations to local development given that it tends to the search of alliances and agreements that can derive in the meeting of needs in each of the territories.

She pointed out however, that to improve the performance of these entities the existence of development strategies in the municipal governments and popular councils are fundamental, based in the diagnosis of the inefficiencies of the region.

This is vital if we want this to have influence on the raise of living standards in the communities through the planning of actions which will rule the ways of contributing to the cooperatives whether individually or collectively.

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