July 20, 2005



Program for Community Leader Development in Agricultural Cooperatives

IDACA has introduced a new course positioning it as an advanced training course among courses that this year range from beginners' to intermediate and advanced.
The new course targets countries of the concerned region with relatively well developed cooperatives. It seeks to equip senior cooperative officials with ability to administer and manage a cooperative and its business that have been improved and grown to be more independent than before. It also aims to develop community leaders who will help promote economic activity within the community and vitalize it.
Responding to requests from the participants, the syllabus was revised a little so that at some point on the course Indian participants studied "Organization and Marketing Methods" while the Thais heard lectures on the JA Group's position toward WTO negotiations, and on-going talks on FTA and FPA.
The course brought together 13 participants: 7 Thais and 6 Indians, some of them government officers who had been involved in the development of cooperatives and others executives of cooperatives. The course was held from February 14 to March 4, 2005. They made a study tour of Shizuoka Prefecture visiting JA Shizuoka Prefectural Union, JA Shizuoka City, JA Topia-Hamamatsu, JA Mikkabi, JA Enshu-Chuo and Shizuoka Agricultural Experiment Station.
JA Mikkabi remains a primary society unaffected by the moves of other cooperatives throughout Japan seeking to grow bigger through amalgamation. JA Mikkabi, whose membership is made up of tangerine growers, is indeed small but is highly spirited. The cooperative is known to be most thorough in farm guidance and management.
Also, JA Mikkabi is noted for maintaining an excellent level of communication with its members. The course participants delved into the ways the cooperative has strengthened its bonds with and won confidence from the members. The systems linking the cooperative to the membership and the farming lots mapping system were analyzed. They saw the cable broadcasting station used as a means of the cooperative-membership communication and the process of thinning out fruits using an optical sensor and other state-of-the-art equipment.
JA Topia, in contrast, has increased its membership to over 60,000 through the merger of a number of JAs scattered over a wide area. There, the participants learned how it exploited the merits of scale for promoting its business.
At both JA Shizuoka City and JA Enshu-Chuo, which have enlarged themselves through amalgamation, chiefly pro-consumer activity was introduced. In the former, chiefly the significance of its "farmers' market" was discussed. After touring its educational farms, the participants went to JA Enshu-Chuo's Japanese-style garden and attended a tea ceremony for a glimpse of Japanese culture.