What Is an Agriculture Cooperative?
An agricultural cooperative, or farmer co-op, is an organization where farmers band together and pool their resources in certain areas of activity. Agricultural service cooperatives provide various services to independent farmer members. In agricultural production cooperatives, farming resources (land, machinery, seeds, etc.) are pooled and the members farm jointly. Examples of agricultural production cooperatives include the kibbutzim in Israel.
Most agricultural cooperatives are service cooperatives. There are two primary types of agricultural service cooperatives, supply cooperatives and marketing cooperatives. Supply cooperatives supply their members with inputs for agricultural production, including seeds, fertilizers, fuel, and machinery services. Marketing cooperatives undertake transportation, packaging, distribution, and marketing of farm products. Farmers also widely rely on credit cooperatives as a source of financing for both working capital and investments.
Farmers come together to pursue specific common interests of their members and develop technical and economic activities that benefit their members — realizing economies of scale by trading, purchasing, and transporting in volume.
Farmers organize to gain access to better prices and more timely and accurate market data.
Farm inputs at scale: The co-ops can buy essential inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and pesticide in bulk and sell them to members at a price which is far below the price they would pay alone. This helps member farmers reduce the cost of inputs and ensures timely delivery of quality inputs.
Farm machinery on demand: To address the ever-increasing cost of farming by small and marginal farmers, some co-ops rent out machinery and implements to members at affordable prices (much below the cost charged by private players). Small farmers increase productivity significantly when they move to mechanization, boosting profits even more.
Better prices from purchasers: Individual farmers are challenged when negotiating with big traders. Co-ops can sell farm products in bulk, negotiating better prices for their members. Some have even created co-op brands and provide processing and value-add services to boost prices further.
More data, more insight: Farmers can analyze historical data and current information about their crops to make smarter decisions about best practices, when to plant, disease risk, when to harvest, etc. However, they can gain even more insight by using data from 100 or 1,000 farms.
Eka’s Farmer Connect Empowers Co-ops
Eka’s Farmer Connect ties farmers together digitally, enabling the co-op and its farmer members — as well as buyers — to communicate and collaborate in real time, without requiring phone calls, email exchanges, or text messages. It empowers the farmers to trade as one unit, so if a buyer wants to purchase one consolidated lot, farmers in the co-op can merge their crops and sell their product as one unit — while maintaining traceability and auditability for the entire crop to each individual farmer. This allows farm co-operatives to market consolidated lots to multiple buyers without compromising the individual farm level traceability.
With Farmer Connect, farm co-operatives can share information and analytics such as market data, historical records, weather information, and analytics to all the individual farmer members, providing more data to enable the farmers to make smarter decisions.
Farmer Connect enables real-time, rapid communication, enabling farmers and buyers to connect and trade quickly. This gives co-op farmers a tremendous advantage when short-term opportunities arise. The farmers can respond quickly, lock in deals, and sign contracts — all from a phone, tablet, or computer — in minutes. The digital platform replaces antiquated paperwork and incessant calls and allows real-time, digital tracking of offers and bids classified by quality, produce and farmer.
Farmer Connect also delivers complete transparency in negotiation history and share of profits, reducing disputes on prices and deal terms. Users can track the status of all open contracts and prices and run statistics on required prices. Farmer Connect provides complete details on contracts by ticket, weight, grades and more and provides up-to-date real-time updates on delivery status.
Mary DeFilippe spends her days creating engaging content — blogs, white papers, articles, and more — that helps readers better understand new technology. She can frequently be found walking around the office listening to heavy metal music while pondering ideas for her next blog.