News: May-August 1996

   This document has been made available in electronic format 
    by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) 
            and the Committee for the Promotion and
              Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC)

                        SD DIMENSIONS 

                       May-August 1996

     *    Success replication, Philippines 
     *    Cooperatives, Morocco 
     *    Training for cooperative development 
     *    Rural unemployment, Hungary 
     *    Argentina cooperatives and MERCOSUR 

"Success case replication" in the Philippines  

The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP), in collaboration with FAO and the Land Bank of the
Philippines, has begun implementation of a Success Case
Replication (SCR) project in the Philippines. The SCR method,
which is based on the notion that "successful" peers are the best
teachers and disseminators of improved business and self-help
techniques, is now being applied to cooperative development.  

In the Philippines project, four successful "mentor" cooperatives
have been enlisted to assist in the training and coaching of 21
"trainee" co-ops in four provinces (Ilococ Sur, Lucena, Cebu-Bogo
and North Cotabato). Mentor co-ops provide training in several
fields: savings mobilization, membership management,
bookkeeping/accounting, business management.  

Trainee co-ops share in the transportation costs and honoraria
of the mentor cooperatives, while the Land Bank of the
Philippines and ESCAP/FAO cover other expenses. Overall reaction
to the new approach is positive. ESCAP/FAO plans to evaluate the
performance of the project late in 1996. 

Cooperative "boom" in Morocco  

An average of 50 autonomous cooperatives are being formed in
Morocco each month as the Government reduces its role in the
cooperative sector. But development of an independent cooperative
movement has been constrained by a lack of experience at all

Those were some of the key findings of a recent FAO advisory
mission to Morocco's Office de Developpement de la Cooperation
(ODCO) in Rabat. Conducted in April-May 1996, the mission found
that ODCO was the best instrument for "piloting the transition
of cooperatives to business-like operation and financial and
managerial independence".  

It recommended a six-point programme for strengthening ODCO's
capacity to train cooperative board members, upgrading its
facilities and changing its legal status - currently that of a
public institution - to an autonomous body with its own

Training of trainers for cooperative development  

FAO has initiated a new programme for the training of trainers
in cooperative development. The programme aims at helping
developing countries transform their agricultural cooperatives
into genuine self-help organizations. It will test training
methodologies through FAO field projects in China, Ethiopia,
India, Indonesia, Thailand and countries of Central and Eastern

The programme will develop a "training of trainers" manual geared
to encouraging greater membership participation, improving
management, and familiarizing political and administrative
decision-makers with new cooperative development approaches.  

Topics covered will include effective communication, fixing
cooperative objectives, mobilizing financial and human resources,
participatory planning and cooperative management. The manual
will be published in late 1996. 

Farm jobs "lost forever" in Hungary  

An FAO study has concluded that even a very successful agrarian
policy in Hungary could not create jobs in agriculture for more
than a small part of the workforce made redundant in recent
years. The study, "Ecseg - a case study of a Hungarian
agricultural cooperative in transition" (FAO, 1995) sought to
gauge the effects of economic liberalization on Hungary's rural
sector by examining the experiences of 11 agricultural
cooperatives. It concluded that large-scale agriculture would
never again see employment levels similar to those of the 1980s.
Further, only a considerable expansion of external and internal
markets could lead to an improvement in the general conditions
of small-scale production.  

To help rural Hungary cope with current economic hardship, the
study recommends "micro-therapies", including a revival of
entrepreneurship and genuine cooperatives of producers and
consumers. "Inhabitants of the villages," it says, "must, at
almost any cost, try to save the living tissue of local society."
The study is available from Director, FAO/SDA, Viale delle Terme
di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. 

Argentina cooperatives prepare for entry into MERCOSUR  

FAO is helping Argentine agricultural cooperatives take advantage
of economic opportunities emerging with the country's integration
into the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR). Argentina joined
the MERCOSUR Free Trade Agreement, along with Brazil, Paraguay
and Uruguay, in 1991.  

Through an FAO project, national and international experts are
advising Argentina's Confederacion Intercooperativa Agropecuaria,
Ltda. (CONINAGRO), the main apex organization serving Argentina's
agricultural cooperatives. They will help prepare investment
projects for reconversion of three CONINAGRO member federations
in low-income areas, and set up a unit within CONINAGRO for the
formulation of similar projects to assist other members.  

FAO says the project will help small farmer co-ops shift from
their "defensive, market protection posture" to a more dynamic,
entrepreneurial approach as the Argentine economy liberalizes.
Once "reconverted", the three cooperatives will be better
equipped to capture market opportunities that otherwise would
fall entirely under the control of large agro-businesses,
including multinational corporations now entering the market.