Sunday, June 7, 2009

Return of the cooperative: grain reserve purchases

"Cooperatives" generally leave a bad taste in the mouths of Chinese farmers. The communes they were forced to join in the 1950s were called "cooperatives" although there was more coercion than cooperation. Farmers could not independently form their own cooperatives or associations until a new law was enacted in 2007.

Now Chinese officials have resurrected the cooperative and are pushing them as the new mode for organizing small farmers in China. Each province has a web site listing cooperatives in the province and products they sell. Cooperatives get support from the government, and there is a supermarket-farmer linkage program in which supermarkets purchase (mostly vegetables and fruits) from farmer cooperatives or distribution centers.

According to a June 4 article, warehouses in Shaanxi Province that purchase grain for central government reserves have been instructed to place orders with specialized farmer cooperatives in grain-producing areas. A notice issued by the Shaanxi Province agriculture department and Sinograin Co.'s Xian branch requires various levels of agricultural departments and central grain reserves to develop links between national grain reserves and farmers specialized cooperatives.

Each municipality and county agriculture bureau, agricultural management station, and technology station must lead their local farmer specialized cooperatives that have grain production and marketing capacity to form links with central grain reserve warehouses in their area. They should enthusiastically coordinate the signing of contract orders for grain, purchase and marketing work, and solve remaining problems between production and marketing counterparts. Each central reserve station should strengthen its relationship and coordination with local agriculture departments, controlling the production dynamics, carrying out grain procurement policy and implementing convenient services to cooperatives and grain farmers to the fullest extent possible to ensure that orders for grain are fulfilled and safeguard farmers from harm.

At the end of the year, the provincial agriculture department and Xian branch of Sinograin will evaluate the work and give incentives to units that do the work well.

The notice also reported each municipality’s and county’s high-yield demonstration field situation and issued the name and contact phone number of leaders of each agricultural management station, extension station, central reserve station director, and purchasing company manager to facilitate linkages between grain reserve warehouses and farmer specialized cooperatives.

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