Cooperatives need support in face of COVID-19

COVID-19 has adversely impacted all economic sectors and stakeholders. Cooperatives, especially agricultural cooperatives, are no exception and are in special need of assistance if they are to survive the turbulent times.
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Ten tonnes of duck breast from the Dong Tam Agricultural Service Cooperative in Tan Yen district, Bac Giang province are now in cold storage with no specific date for their release. Duck breast packages continue to pile up as storage space reaches capacity.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cooperative supplied 2 tonnes of processed products from duck to the market every day. But volumes have now fallen 80%. The cooperative must still cover the cost of animal feed and general operations, however, and low consumption and high costs have become a heavy burden.

Capital is a major challenge facing the cooperative and results in a dependence on partners. Now that these partners have been scaled down by COVID-19 and reduced their orders, the cooperatives are in serious trouble. Farm produce simply can’t be stored for too long, and cooperatives are in special need of assistance.

The Hung Thinh agricultural cooperative in Hiep Hoa district had planned to develop hi-tech farms prior to the pandemic. Though projects are underway already and the full cost is funded by the Cooperatives Alliance, they still need more capital to purchase seedlings and breeds and build production and consumption chains.

According to figures from the Bac Giang Provincial Cooperatives Alliance, two-thirds of local cooperatives have been affected by COVID-19. If proper support is not forthcoming, the local cooperative economy will be severely affected.

With the aim of sustainably developing the cooperative economy, the Bac Giang provincial steering committee for cooperative economic development has directed ineffective cooperatives to dissolve.

The committee has prioritised support for agricultural cooperatives, especially in assisting them to apply hi-tech farming methods.

According to experts, more support is needed to assist cooperatives through these difficult days, but they themselves must also seek long-term and sustainable development strategies that take into consideration risk factors, to avoid being severely affected by external challenges./.

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