Agronuez Choapa Cooperative already exports more than 250 tons of nuts
Source UNAF CHILE
Written by Claudio Bravo, 26 mar 2015
The main activity of the cooperative is the commercialization of the nut production of its 90 members located in the communes of lllapel, Salamanca and los Vilos, in the Choapa Province, Coquimbo Region. The producers have a surface of walnut trees that goes from the average hectare to the 11 hectares, with an average of 0.6 hectares per producer.
The president of the cooperative Renan Gálvez points out that “all the members receive technical assistance which is provided by the technicians of the cooperative and that with their support the producers have technified their lands incorporating gates, technified irrigation and ridges in the planting of walnuts , this has been a high investment that is being threatened by more than 7 years of drought in the region, for which we believe that it is urgent to receive financial support to invest in deep wells and to increase the capacity of the water pools“.
Another challenge to face, according to Renán Gálvez “is the age of the partners; since many of them are over 60 years and the family group is composed of 7 people and only 4 remain on the property as many of them prefer higher income, which is provided mainly by mining. “ That is why Renán tells us that “it is very important to involve young people in the productive and commercial processes of the cooperative as this can be very attractive for them and can deliver a better contribution, especially young people who have studied technical careers linked with the agricultural sector “.
The cooperative, as a commercial strategy, determins the commercialization of its first productions in the domestic market (85% of production) and only a small percentage for the international market (15% of production). This option was mainly to generate working capital and lower costs.
Currently 77% of production is exported and a significant part is through fair trade, for which a strategic alliance was established with the Chico Méndez Consumer Cooperative of Italy. Also through fair trade there is trade with Holland and Brazil through the traditional trade (Broker). The year 2012 exported 198 tons, 2013 were 219 tons and during 2014 exported 254 tons.
The Manager of the cooperative, Bella Villarreal tells us that “the projection of production for the next 7 years is to reach 800 tons; since the production peak is reached at 7 years. In addition the planted area will grow and so will the number of partners.“
The main challenge of the cooperative has been the loyalty of the partners and for this it is very important to have working capital, in a timely manner. Unfortunately this is the main bottleneck,” says the manager.
Currently the producers are paid in advance, for which a minimum guaranteed payment was defined. Along with this, inputs are anticipated to the producers, which reduces the demand for working capital, reduces costs and ensures the use of adequate inputs to carry out Good Agricultural Practices and thus ensure the quality of production. The cooperative has fair trade certification (FLO) standards similar to the Global Gap.
The month of March and April is the harvest period for the Seer and Chandler varieties, for which each producer keeps a record and the cooperative assigns them a code with the purpose of keeping track, specially, of the sales in the external markets. After harvesting, drying is carried out on each farm in order to reach a moisture of not more than 10% in the nuts.
The leaders and members of the cooperative point out that “if the Peasant Family Agriculture is wereted access to technology and innovation, it can achieve high levels of competitiveness in both national and international markets.”
“THE COOPERATIVE OFFERS A FAIR PRICE TO ITS ASSOCIATES AND STABLE IN TIME AS THE PRODUCERS DOES NOT DEPEND ON THE SPECULATIVE PRICES OF THE INTERMEDIARIES”