|Members of the Thới Thạnh Agriculture Co-operative process coconuts to make coconut-related products in Bến Tre Province’s Thạnh Phú District. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Đạt|
BẾN TRE — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre is fostering the development of its collective economy and improve its operational efficiency.
The province plans to develop 50 new co-operative groups and 15 new co-operatives this year, according to its People’s Committee.
Under current regulations, the minimum number of required members for a co-operative group are three and for a co-operative, seven.
The province plans to increase the average revenue of co-operatives to VNĐ2.1 billion (US$89,000) this year from VNĐ1.2 billion ($51,000) last year.
It aims to develop 20 new products under the country’s “One Product - One Commune” (OCOP) programme for 20 co-operatives and upgrade the star level of seven existing OCOP products of co-operatives this year. OCOP products are rated from one to five stars.
Nguyễn Minh Cảnh, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the province will renovate the operation of the collective economy to improve its efficiency.
It will strengthen advocacy activities to enhance the awareness of officials, Party members and locals about the role and importance of the collective economy.
It will improve policies for developing human resources, soft loans, new technology, infrastructure, marketing and market information research for the collective economy and co-operatives.
It will boost linkages between co-operatives and companies to produce and consume products and services.
It will instruct agriculture co-operatives to change their mindset of merely producing to become part of an agricultural economy to enable them to sell their produce.
Phùng Anh Thục Đoan, deputy chairwoman of the provincial Co-operative Alliance, said the alliance will instruct co-operatives to set up efficient production plans.
The production plans will diversify services, focus on using new seed varieties that have high yield and quality, produce safe and clean products, and boost linkages among stakeholders in production and consumption, she said.
To increase value for agricultural products, the province has encouraged companies and co-operatives to invest in production facilities and machines to increase the rate of deep processing for agricultural products.
Develop more co-operatives
After the implementation of the 2012 Co-operative Law, the operation of co-operatives has been improved significantly and their operating models suit the production conditions of their members, according to the provincial People’s Committee.
The number of the province’s co-operatives has increased from 94 in 2013 to 179 last year. Of them, 140 operate in agriculture and aquaculture sectors.
Many agriculture co-operatives have effectively supplied input materials for agricultural production and have linked with processing companies to secure outlets for farmers.
They have led in using good agricultural practices (GAP) or organic standards in growing crops, especially coconut.
The country’s largest coconut producing province has developed concentrated coconut growing areas in which co-operatives link with processing companies to grow the nut under organic standards.
It has 17,000ha of its 78,000ha of coconut planted to organic standards, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
There are 79 co-operative groups and 58 co-operatives growing coconuts in the province. Of them, 32 co-operative groups and 28 co-operatives, which grow 5,600ha of coconuts and have 6,200 members, have linked with companies to develop value chains for their coconuts.
More agriculture co-operatives in Bến Tre have linked with companies to secure outlets and stable prices for their members.
The Định Thuỷ Agriculture Co-operative in Mỏ Cày Nam District’s Định Thuỷ Commune has a farm contract with a processing company to grow coconut to organic standards.
It has 500ha of coconut and 144ha of them are planted to organic standards under the farm contract.
Đặng Trúc Phương, chairman of the co-operative, said the linkage to grow coconut under a value chain is a key for the co-operative’s members to become wealthy.
The co-operative gets an average revenue of VNĐ600 million ($25,500) a month, he said.
Trần Văn Luông, a member of the co-operative, said: “Thanks to the co-operative having a farm contract with the company, my family’s 1ha coconut grove has stable outlet.”
He harvests about 1,200 coconuts which are purchased at a price of VNĐ5,000-12,000 per dozen, higher than market prices, he said.
Huỳnh Quang Đức, deputy director of the department, said the department has encouraged coconut farmers to join co-operative groups and co-operatives which link with companies to develop value chains for coconut and establish sustainable growing areas to meet export requirements.
The province is fostering growing coconut to organic standards and developing production codes for coconut growing areas for official export to China and other markets. — VNS