NCBA - National Cooperative Business Association

10/15/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/15/2019 09:46

Co-op Leaders and Participants Focus on Associativity and Call to Action in the Dominican Republic

Over 600 participants, cooperative leaders, and specialists of the Dominican agriculture sector attended the XX National Encounter of Leaders of the Agricultural Sector conference under the theme 'Associativity in the Dominican agri-food system'. NCBA CLUSA's Technical Specialist in Cooperative Development, Camila Piñeiro, was invited to give a keynote address on NCBA CLUSA's main learnings in its more than one hundred years working to develop, advance and promote cooperative enterprise. Camila participated in a panel about promoting agricultural cooperatives with key local organizations such as IDECOOP, and AIRAC.

The conference was held at the Meliá Caribe hotel in Punta Cana on September 4-6, 2019. It was hosted by the Dominican Agribusiness Board (Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana- JAD), an apex level organization and vehicle for farmers to advocate for their needs and demands to the Dominican government. With 170 thousand members between farmers and producer organizations, JAD is the biggest organization of the agricultural sector in the Dominican Republic, supporting, and promoting national agricultural production. Additionally, forty percent of the organizations represented by JAD are cooperatives. JAD organized the conference on the topic of associativity. While agricultural co-ops and associations have received more support from the Dominican government over the last few years, there's still more to be done to help farmers in the country. Steps are being taken to strengthen the governance of these organizations to ensure sustainability and make better use of the opportunities that are being offered.

Camila Piñeiro delivered a presentation in the plenary panel, 'Associativity in Agriculture Cooperatives' (Asociatividad en el sector agropecuario) about NCBA CLUSA lessons learned and key recommendations from developing agriculture cooperatives in more than 80 countries. She also spoke about NCBA CLUSA's USDA-funded Safe Agriculture/Food Export (PROGANA) project based in the Dominican Republic. The goals of this project include improving the productivity of livestock (beef and dairy) value chain, expanding trade in beef and dairy products by adding value to post-production, and more. This project has a duration of 5 years, with a contribution of $16.2 million dollars and seeks to reach more than 10 thousand livestock producers in eleven provinces of the country, where more than 70 percent of national livestock production is concentrated. The project has been extremely successful thus far, but more work continues to be done to complete its goals.

Panelists at the conference also discussed agricultural producers' concerns about the needs of the sector; a report with all their concerns and proposed solutions was given to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Osmar Benítez, to be presented to the President of the Republic. They demanded the creation of a Superintendence of Cooperatives and warned about a lack of water availability for the agricultural sector if no action is taken. They also requested that the Dominican Government expand investments in projects focusing on rural women and youth projects, within a framework of family farming implemented by Ministries of Women and Youth. This investment would promote their participation in organizations and promote leadership development, as well as provide them with technical and university scholarships. Furthermore, they requested that the access to credit through the Presidential Visits Program be institutionalized, a successful initiative of the Danilo Medina administration. They concluded by favoring the generation of public-private partnerships in order to support, finance and encourage initiatives managed by women and youth.