First, let’s define what cooperatives are. Basically, any cooperative is a group of people striving to achieve the same goals and ready to work together for it. Two main pillars holding a cooperative are people and the democratic process, which means that all of its members have a say when deciding on how to do certain things.
Across different industries, cooperatives may seem just like any other business at the first glance. However, if dig deeper into how they actually work, one special difference comes to the surface — cooperatives focus mostly on how they can benefit their members rather than placing emphasis on profits for owners and shareholders. Farmers’ coops are no exception. In this piece, we will discuss how farming cooperatives can benefit their members and what part technology plays in the success of agricultural cooperatives in production, including the most up-to-date satellite image analytics.
Benefits of Joining a Farmers Cooperative
Let’s imagine a situation: one small farm wants to cultivate the land, but a tractor would cost too much. On the other hand, there are several other small farms in the neighborhood. Therefore they can pool their money together and rent a tractor to take turns using it. This is a simple example of why farmers decided to unite in the first place.
But there are other benefits as well. For example, members of cooperatives stop being competitors, because they often produce the same products, and start cooperating. When they are able to collect a large batch of goods, it is easier for them to establish contacts with other organizations for the marketing and processing of agricultural produce. And this makes it possible in the future to grow their goods already for a specific order, which reduces the economic risks. Here are some other examples of how farmers benefit from being cooperative’s members.
Agri cooperatives frequently organize training for their members to help them gain expertise in farming and how to organize its processes effectively.
Government Support and Loan Facilities
One of the biggest opportunities open to cooperatives’ members is getting government support via different grants and aid, and loans from Agri banks. There are already available platforms created specifically to enable easy access of farmers to agricultural credits from lending institutions. And members of a cooperative can access funding faster and easier.
Easier Market Entry
Getting into the local or global agricultural market requires a certain level of knowledge and experience. Members of farming coops can take advantage of gaining both.
In non-urban areas, cooperatives could be the only organizations satisfying the local supply for different products. Therefore, without cooperatives, the locals would have to seek those elsewhere. More so, agri coops not only aid farmers but also offer services to those who are not involved in agriculture. For instance, farm supply coops could sell fuel or chemicals to non-farmers. Apart from this, Agri coops provide jobs for the locals, while also increasing workers’ income.
The Role of AgriTech in Farmer’s Coops
Agricultural technology is an integral part of modern farming. And one of the biggest shares in this is taken by space tech, more specifically satellite imagery analytics. With the development of various satellites and the growth of their possibilities, more and more cases of their applications have appeared. People can now even access a live satellite view of a certain area to see what occurs there right now. In agriculture, satellite imagery helps solve key challenges farmers and farm cooperatives encounter, including:
- Unsustainable and low yields
- Inputs application planning
- Communication and transparency between coop members
With the help of satellite images of Earth analytics integrated into farm software, farm coops can effectively overcome these issues. For example, Crop Monitoring by EOSDA is a digital platform valuable for agricultural cooperatives in terms of increasing profitability and productivity while saving resources, and enabling smart field management. The tool is equipped with different features, offering data on the weather (current, historical, forecast), crop health, field productivity, field activities, and more.
For example, the field leaderboard feature helps to keep track of vegetation health in all the fields simultaneously. For agricultural crops, this is a possibility to notice any changes in crop development timely to act accordingly and save the affected yields.
Another useful feature for coops would be team management, which allows for sharing the account with different users by appointing them with different rights depending on their roles. For instance, the manager could have admin access with the ability to monitor all the cooperative’s fields. But the team members could have access only to their own fields. With all the fields and necessary data retrieved from satellite pictures of Earth analysis in one tool, cooperative members could achieve transparency and act together by visualizing and taking advantage of the same information, and planning activities accordingly.