The Incentive Program for Cooperativism in Family Farming and Solidary Economy (Coopersol) was launched yesterday by the Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto.
The object is to ensure that at least 20% of the US$ 2.43 billion (7 billion reais) earmarked for Family Farming in the current Harvest Plan is channeled through credit cooperatives.
According to the Central Bank (BC), 1,665 municipalities (29% of the 5,658 that exist in Brazil) don’t have bank branches, but many of them have cooperatives.
The President of the BC, Henrique Meirelles, attended the ceremony at which the Coopersol was announced.
The Coopersol is part of the federal government’s Brazil Cooperative Plan, which gives each Ministry autonomy to implant programs that stimulate the growth of this sector.
According to Rossetto, the government is making big strides in the allotment of credit to family farming and agrarian reform settlers.
“A year and a half ago we had US$ 766 million (2.2 billion reais), and now, during the present farm year, we are operating with US$ 2.43 billion (7 billion reais),” he pointed out.
In the Minister’s view, cooperation and association are essential to organization and strategic production in the government’s development model.
For Rossetto, the inauguration of the Coopersol launches and structures the program to support cooperativism and represents a milestone in the implementation of the government’s rural development strategy.
“Support for family agriculture and the agrarian reform program constitute strategic lines of attack for the model of economic development with social inclusion that we are erecting in the country,” he remarked.
The Minister said that few countries have Brazil’s opportunities to provide work, productive activity, and increased food production with quality.
“That is the reason that, parallel to a landholding strategy, a land access program, an agrarian reform program, we are putting together a set of public policies to sustain effectively this democratic agrarian model of access to land.”
At the ceremony to inaugurate the Coopersol, the Minister signed agreements worth US$ 661 million (1.9 million reais) with nine credit cooperatives. The agreements, which involve training programs and expansion, should benefit 139.3 thousand families.
The partners of the Coopersol include the Association of Family and Solidary Credit Cooperativism (Ancosol), which is national in scope, and eight other credit cooperatives, which are active in 15 states.
Rossetto also signed a term of technical cooperation with the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV) for specialized training in credit cooperatives. The goal is to prepare 240 professionals in this area in the next two years.
The Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB) registered a 29.6% expansion in the sector last year, compared to 2002, and believes that this year’s growth will be even greater, as a result of a National Monetary Council (CMN) resolution last June making access easier to the cooperative system.
Optimism was voiced by the OCB’s economic advisor, Evandro Ninaut, who said that the creation of new cooperatives is easier, despite some difficulties in the sphere of taxation.
But, in general, the evolution is clear when one observes the figures of the Department of Norms of the Central Bank (BC), which registered the constitution of 25 credit cooperatives in 2003, as against the more than 28 that have been started in just the first quarter of this year. This brings the total number of credit cooperatives listed with the BC through March to 1,427.
Nunes points out that the expansion of the sector is in full swing in Brazil, even though its performance is modest compared with countries with a cooperative tradition, such as Germany, where credit cooperatives account for 20% of all financial and banking activities, or the Netherlands, where cooperatives handle practically all of the country’s rural financial requirements.
In Brazil credit cooperatives are responsible for slightly over 2% of credit operations in the National Financial System (SFN). But, compared with 1995, when this participation represented only 0.47% of total credit operations, the system has more than quadrupled in eight years. In all, the cooperatives have 6.3 million associates and are responsible for 110 thousand direct jobs.
To provide an even greater impulse to the sector, the CMN, at it meeting last March, authorized Brazil’s only two cooperative banks (the Bancoop, in Brasília, and the Bansicred, in Porto Alegre) to operate as well in the capture of savings to apply in the rural sector.
Ninaut emphasized that the sector has a strong growth potential, and he commemorated the recent announcement by the BC’s director of Norms, Sérgio Darcy, that over 56 requests from credit cooperatives to begin operations are awaiting approval.