NIA-CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 19, 2011) — President of Nevis’ newest Farmer’s Cooperative Society Mr. Marcel Hanley said that organisations such as his, could serve its membership in many ways as he urged other farmers to join a cooperative.
He made the comment when he delivered his acceptance speech after he was presented with the New Rivers Farmers Development Cooperative Society instruments from the Department of Cooperatives. The function was held at the Department of Agriculture’s conferennce room at Prospect on Wednesday October 19th.
“Farmers Cooperatives can serve their members in many ways including bargaining for better prices, storing and selling members produce and processing farm products into more consumer ready goods. In the United States, agricultural cooperatives handle 30 percent of farmers’ total farm marketing volume.
“When one considers the potential benefits from the standpoints of marketing, supply and services, we recognise that we could sell more products to a wider market. We would enjoy lower prices because of the greater purchase bargaining power and we could have access to better training material and best practices. We all should be looking forward to joining one cooperative or another or forming your own if it would serve your better interest,” he said.
Mr. Hanley thanked the members of the new Cooperative for their support and having recognised the benefits to be derived from grouping and organising themselves for a common good.
He also paid tribute to a member Mr. James Moving who he said had recently passed away.
“Mr. Moving was a dedicated member and got involved in all aspects of the group. He was often the first to be present for any meeting and always gave his input. May his soul rest in peace,” he said. During the launching ceremony a minute of silence was observed in memory of Mr. Moving.
Notwithstanding, the Cooperative’s President spoke to the formation of the organisation which he explained took root as early as 2009 when a meeting for all the farmers of New River was convined by the Department of Agriculture.
At that meeting he noted that a number of issues which pertained to agricultural development were discussed. He said it was also brought to light then that the area of New River was leading the island in crop production and it was suggested that a cooperative would serve its members well.
“It was then uninimously decided by all present that every effort would be made to group ourselves in the interest of overall development for the area and thus the New River Farmers Development Cooperative Society was born.
“We have been having regular monthly meetings which have always been well attended, interactive and benificial. We have made it a point of ensuring that every meeting involved an aspect of training or information dissemination,” he said.
Meantime, Cooperative Officer in the Department of Cooperatives on Nevis Ms. Alcette Myers had strong words of advice for the new group in light of the challenges they would face as they forged ahead in these financially difficult times.
“We guarantee you that with dedication and commitment you will rise above those challenges. Let us offer you a few tips that would enable your cooperative to be successful.
“Familarise yourself with the Cooperative Laws, By-Laws and Regulations that you would be presented with today. These are the documents that will propel you in the right direction; Encourage your members to buy the necessary shares as stipulated in the By-Laws. Remember the Cooperative is a business and must be treated as such. The capital must be raised to run the Society as it should. Do not expect things to fall into your laps.
“Meetings as a necessity – monthly as well as annual general meetings. There are deadlines to be met and therefore these must be foremost in the minds of all members; Record keeping is key. Ensure that proper records are kept of all transactions. The By-Laws set out all documents that are necessary for the Society; Keep thinking cooperative and cooperation. Work in unison in all spheres,” she urged.
Moments before she handed over the documents to President of the New River Farmers Development Cooperative Society Limited, Ms. Myers reminded that they were not given for pleasure or as gifts that would get dusty. “They are for your guidance in every aspect of the Society. Familiarise yourself with them,” she advised.
During the launch other brief remarks came from Chief Extension Officer in the Department of Agriculture Mr. Walcott James. The event was chaired by Communications Officer in the Department Mr. Eric Evelyn.