Cooperative farming for beginners: Cooperative farming mainly refers to farming practices where farming operations are conducted cooperatively. In this agricultural practices were conducted by individuals on their holdings jointly with certain common agencies. These agencies form on their behalf for the collection and purchase of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, equipment, etc. and the sale of their agricultural produce.
A guide to cooperative farming and it’s features
An agricultural cooperative is also called as a farmers’ co-op. It is a cooperative where farmers pool their resources in certain areas of activity. It allows little farms to do what big farms can do, like buy inputs at bulk rates, increase volume to open new markets and lower the per-use cost of equipment. Together, producers can lower costs, access required services or facilities, or generate more income.
Factors such as increasing pressure of population on land, uneconomic size of holding, primitive and unscientific methods of cultivation, inequitable distribution of land, poverty, and ignorance of the peasantry, etc., are the main impediments that stand in the way of implementation of the planned agricultural production in India.
Classification of cooperative farming
This cooperative farming type is further classified as;
(a) Cooperative better farming ownership and operations both Individual.
(b) Cooperative joint farming ownership is individual and the operations are collective.
(c) Cooperative Tenant farming ownership is collectively and operations are individual.
(d) Cooperative collective farming ownership and operations both collectively.
Features of cooperative farming
In cooperative farming the below features are relevant;
- Joining of the farmers in this system is voluntary;
- Farmers retain their right to land;
- Farmers pool their land, livestock and also other implements;
- The entire farm is managed as a single unit and management is elected by all the members; and
- Every member earns a share of the total production with their land contribution and labor performed.
Advantages of cooperative farming
Various advantages of cooperative farming can be given below:
- Cooperative farming solves the problem of sub-division and fragmentation of holdings.
- The cooperative farm has more men-material-money resources to increase irrigation system potential and land productivity. Members could not have been able to do it individually on their small farm.
- Case studies normally point out that with cooperative farming, per acre production increases.
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Economies of Scale
Cooperative farming could solve all the problems of small and uneconomic holdings. By pooling all the small and marginal farms, members of cooperative farming can reap all the advantages of large-scale farming. While purchasing agricultural inputs such as seeds, and fertilizers, etc the society can purchase in bulk quantity and it costs less. Big machinery such as tractors, harvesting machines can now be purchased by the society and the agricultural operations can now be managed on a more scientific basis. Agricultural implements will be fully utilized and this will be no under-employed farmers as they will be gainfully employed in the co-operative farms.
The marketable surplus of food grain and industrial raw materials can be transported and marketed on a bulk basis suitably by society and then fetch remunerative prices.
Release of Workers
Higher productivity in cooperative farming will pave the system for the release of workers from agricultural to non-agricultural operations.
This is helpful for the government on the administrative point of view to collect taxes, distributing subsidies and also for introducing improved methods of production.
This can attain higher creditworthiness when compared to that of individual farming. And such a large scale can attract a greater amount of finance for its productive activities.
Cooperative framings are having social arguments and also political arguments in their favor as it can inculcate the spirit of cooperation among the different members of the society.
Cooperative farming can enhance incomes
Indian agriculture is mainly characterized by small and marginal farmers. They are deprived of access to the latest precision farming, farm mechanization, credit, technical advice, quality inputs, market intelligence, and post-harvesting facilities. Fragmentation of land is inevitable due to the ever-increasing population of humans and decreasing cultivable land. There is a need to address this issue comprehensively to increase production and farmer income to overcome deficit speedily.
The economies of scale in procurement, technology adoption and marketing are better if small farmers join hands for collective farming. The farmer group operation facilitates the requirement for quality and traceability for exports. Farmers in cooperative farming become an integral part of the supply chain. There is a need, to encourage the formation of producer enterprises, agricultural cooperatives or commodity-based collectives so that a section of the farmers can themselves reap the benefits.
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There are problems for processing and marketing enterprises for procuring higher quality for specific markets from a large number of small farmers. There is a need, for forming large groups of farmers engaged in the production of higher quality for specific markets within specific agro-climatic zones.
Advantages of farming an agricultural cooperative
Agricultural cooperative farming is a form of farmer collective action for the marketing and processing of farm products and also for the production of farm inputs.
Cooperatives have not performed well as the result of poor governance structures, multiple and competing goals, but problems arise from insufficient trust between members. In some cases, top-down approaches where cooperatives have been established by external agents, rather than farmers themselves, produced unfavorable results.
Important elements for successful agricultural cooperatives contain appropriate legal frameworks and governance aligned with national policies, business skills, and governance capacity. Also access to markets and trading links, especially for competing in international markets; and need for improved understanding of the dual nature of cooperatives as business and civil society members.
The major aim of establishing a cooperative is to increase member’s production and incomes by helping better link them with finance, agricultural inputs, and output markets Collective action is the core resource of agricultural cooperatives.
Cooperative farming can help farmers benefit from economies of scale by lowering their costs of inputs or hiring services for example storage and transport.
The agricultural cooperative system enables farmers to improve product and service quality and reduce risks. Farmers in cooperatives have more bargaining power, lower transaction costs in getting loans, and also better access to information.
Cooperatives are based on values of democracy, equality, and equity; they can play a particularly strong role in empowering women, particularly in developing countries.
Important variants of a cooperative farming
Following are some of the important variants of cooperative farming;
Cooperative Joint Farming Society
This farming society comes into existence when the members pool their land and productive assets and carry on all the pre-sowing the pooling and post-harvesting functions besides the cultivation of the pooled land on the cooperative farming basis. It purchases different inputs from the market and arranges for the marketing of the produce. It seeks financial assistance from outside agencies to carry on these activities.
Cooperative Better Farming Society
In a cooperative better farming society, the members do not cultivate their land jointly and each member cultivates his land. Though, they co-operate with each other for pre-sowing and post-harvesting operations. For instance, they purchase different agricultural inputs like seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, services of machinery, etc. on a cooperative basis.
They sell the crops jointly and a cooperative better farming society may also arrange for financial assistance for carrying on these activities.
Cooperative Tenant Farming Society
Cooperative Tenant Farming society which purchases or leases inland from the Government or some private persons and leases out the land to its members. The members cultivate the land and pay the rent falling to their share, and the society.
Cooperative Collective Farming Society
This type of collective society involves the pooling of their land by the members permanently. A member joins this society cannot ever withdraw his land from society. Transfer land to some other person who will now become a substitute member of the society.
The functions of this collective farming society are similar to those performed by a cooperative joint farming society. In this, the member gets their wages and profits according to the labor and land respectively contributed by them. Such a society is produced in contravention of the general principles-of cooperative that means voluntary membership with a right to withdraw from the society at any time.
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Cooperative farming is a pillar for agricultural development and food security
In agriculture cooperative farming, forestry, fisheries, and livestock is the main source of employment and also income in rural areas. These agricultural cooperatives play an important role in supporting small producers and marginalized groups.
Cooperative farming offers small agricultural producers opportunities and a wide range of services. Smallholder producers can secure their livelihoods and play an important role in meeting the growing demand for food on local, national and international markets, thus contributing to poverty alleviation, food security and also eradication of hunger.
Farmers who are efficiently organized can form a collective voice to advocate for their needs and access services at more affordable prices that can help them increase yields, sales, and profits. Producer organizations could achieve competitiveness for smallholder farmers.
Cooperatives increased farm income
Cooperatives increase farm income in several ways. These include;
- Raising the price level for products marketed or lowering the level for supplies purchased;
- Reducing per-unit handling or processing costs by assembling large volumes, that is economies of size or scale;
- Distributing to farmers any net savings made in handling, processing, and also selling operations;
- Upgrading the quality of supplies and developing new markets for products.
Types of co-operative farming societies
There are mainly four types of cooperative farming societies which are described in the following paragraphs. They are;
- Better farming society,
- Tenant farming society,
- Joint farming society, and
- Collective farming society.
The better-farming society can be said to form the basis of the co-operative farming program. The major object of it is to educate and to prepare the farmers to accept the new system of farming. For this, they organize demonstrations of the improved process of agriculture. Use of improved seeds, manures and implements is the most general activity undertaken by these societies. Besides this, several other activities such as disposal of farm create at reasonable prices, purchase of occupational requisites, etc., and are also undertaken. Under this type of farming, the ownership, and management of land rest with the individual.
Cooperative Tenant Farming Society
The society provides its members with facilities such as finance, implements, and seed, etc. The society owns land it on a lease, but it does not undertake to farm.
Cooperative joint Farming Society
These farming societies are appropriate to solve the problem of fragmentation of land and the cultivation of uneconomic holdings.
The members of the society work together on the pooled land according to the program of the society. The cultivators work on the farm receives wages for their labor. The common functions of types of societies are planning of crop programs, joint purchase of farm requisites, joint cultivation, raising of funds for the improvement of land and joint sale of farm produce. The small owners of the land are encouraged to pool their land so form a large unit of cultivation. The society can purchase or take on lease land for cultivation.
Co-operative Collective Farming Society
The society owns land or gets it on lease and collectively cultivated by its members. Most of these farming societies are organized on Government wastelands. No dividend is paid on the share capital and the members of the collective farming society do not have any ownership or proprietary rights in the land.
Agricultural cooperation in India
This is not an easy task because the past efforts in cooperative have not succeeded. Agricultural cooperation in India so far suffered from different institutional drawbacks but it cannot be given up. An honest attempt has to be made to convince the farmers about the advantages of cooperative farming and economies of scale.
There are some successful cases of cooperatives in India that are unique models, but localized and they are known for acceptance of leadership and commitment. These societies are, confined mainly to the marketing of inputs and outputs. The concept of cooperative farming marketing of inputs and seed production is spreading in different villages. But concerted efforts are to be made by one and all to demonstrate the benefits of cooperative farming and extending other various forms of support.
The appropriate mechanism must be put in place so that farmers have greater control of the market channels and improve their profit opportunities. The policy and legal framework under which the cooperatives are functioning, need to be reviewed to make an enabling environment for them to attain autonomy and run operations in a business-like manner and accounting made transparent.
Farmers’ cooperatives must be financially supported for creating initial infrastructure. The present free economic policies must have a reserve place and sector for cooperatives. You might be interested in Vanilla Farming, Planting, Growing Methods.