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USAID-backed agri co-op beats membership target


AGRITERRA, which is implementing a $2 million value-chain initiative backed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said its Generating Rural Opportunities by Working with Cooperatives (GROW Coop) project has hit 10,900 members after three years, exceeding expectations.

“Through this project, we just shared to them a more systematized, and results-oriented way of providing support for the value chain,” according to Marciano T. Virola, business advisor of Agriterra and chief of party of the GROW project.

Agriterra, which specializes in developing cooperatives into bankable, farmer-led agribusinesses, has its origins in the Dutch farm cooperative movement.

The project has developed cooperatives, federations, and private companies into local resource organizations which then provide in-depth mentoring, capacity development, and support for micro-, small-, and medium-sized agricultural cooperatives.

According to Mr. Virola, the project has signed 41 new purchasing agreements and has leveraged $3.74 million worth of non-donor investment.

Agriterra hopes its model will help serve as a roadmap for agri-cooperatives, and are pushing for legislation along these lines.

“We came up with a draft of the agricultural cooperative bill… (which) we hope to submit to legislators in the coming days,” he said.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Jane C. Bacayo said that there are currently over 30,000 registered cooperatives managed by the Cooperative Development Authority. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

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