Digital technologies stimulate processes and increase the competitiveness of agricultural cooperatives, show experiences organized by IICA

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) organized a forum to share success stories in the use of information and communication technologies in small and medium-sized cooperatives of farmers in Spain, Argentina, Paraguay and Honduras

San Jos̩, December 15, 2021 (IICA) РCooperatives offer an ideal opportunity for small and medium-sized farmers in the Americas to integrate digital technologies more quickly into their activities with the aim of improving productivity, market access, competitiveness and income.

These were the conclusions of a virtual forum organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to share the successes of the Spanish cooperatives Oleoestepa and TROPS, the Argentine Federation of Cooperatives of Technology and Innovation Workers and Knowledge (FACTTIC), Apagüiz Limitada of the Federation of Production Cooperatives of Honduras and Paraguay (FECOPROD).

Oleoestepa, one of the main extra virgin olive oil production and marketing cooperatives with more than 60,000 hectares of olive groves and 7,000 member farmers, uses digital technologies for traceability, production control, internal communication and marketing, said Javier Caro, head of research, development and innovation.

Caro explained that the production plant is equipped with a monitoring, control and data acquisition system to monitor and control production at all times. They also offer online shopping, which has generated annual sales growth of 30%.

“We are currently evaluating technologies related to precision agriculture, such as weather stations and satellite remote sensing or field sensors to acquire and process data using AI and Big Data, with the aim of end of increasing olive production with less inputs and more sustainability, ”added Caro.

TROPS, one of the leading producers and traders of avocados and mangoes with more than 3,000 farmers, is also using digital technologies in a variety of ways, said Jesús Regodón, Director of Innovation and Sustainability. These include “for traceability, product calibration imaging systems, real-time analysis, field and farmer applications and an online store.”

“We are proud that co-ops seek to form alliances and learn from each other. We have been working on digitization and innovation for a long time; innovation and sustainability are in our DNA, ”said Regodón, who announced that in the future they will be implementing IoT sensors and applications, production forecasting with AI, analytical models and satellite imagery; automation of processes and irrigation for more efficient water use; and automatic assessment and harvesting of ripe fruit.

Nicolás Dimarco, president of FACTTIC, which brings together 35 software development cooperatives, explained that they work to “help and support the adoption of technologies in agricultural cooperatives”, for which intercooperation is fundamental in order to be able to develop solutions.

Blas Cristaldo, director of FECOPROD in Paraguay, explained the different management and assistance platforms in livestock, agriculture, laboratory, academic, administrative and financial that have been developed for the benefit of the 34 rural farmers’ cooperatives that are part of the Federation.

In turn, Vicente Blandón, managing director of Apagüiz, a rural savings and credit cooperative in Honduras, stressed the importance of the exchange of experiences as they are in a “process of digitization of services and d ‘use of digital technologies’.

The virtual event was also attended by Lloyd Day, Deputy Director General of IICA, and Danilo Salerno, Regional Director of Cooperatives of the Americas. It was moderated by Álvaro Ramos, former Minister of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, who is also a member of the IICA Advisory Council for Food Security in the Americas.

“Cooperatives are a key form of association in the economic development of family farmers. Information and communication technologies offer many opportunities to cooperatives, which associate with various sectors, through the provision of goods and services in rural economies, undoubtedly supporting the technological and training needs of the people. family farmers, ”Day said.

The forum also concluded that great opportunities exist for cooperatives and members in incorporating technologies to add value and diversify agrifood production, thereby improving sustainability. In turn, he underlined that cooperatives are an instrument of economic and social inclusion for their members.

“During the Covid-19 crisis, cooperativism provided constructive and innovative responses by applying information and communication technologies to organizational or production models, but we saw the need for exchanges, dissemination and sharing of knowledge to foster innovation and contribute to the sustainability of food systems and the green economy, ”explained Danilo Salerno.

The forum is part of the Joint Cooperation Program, implemented by IICA and the Cooperatives of the Americas since November 2019, which includes intercooperation projects still under development, and the Cooperative Center for Digital Skills, a space technological innovation, education, training, coaching and technology services aimed at supporting the cooperative and associative movement in the hemisphere.

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