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Projects

Our Approach:

We at AgroFrontera believe the best way to protect and enhance natural systems and improve the lives of families in farm communities by creating food supply chains that:

  • value the contributions of all food system stakeholders through just compensation and safe working conditions; and

  • reward a long-term commitment to the conservation of productive soils, plentiful and unpolluted water supplies, and a rich diversity of plants and animals.

By strengthening farmer cooperatives, generating, adopting and disseminating environmentally sound production and postharvest handling practices and increasing participation of farmers in local, national and international markets, AgroFrontera and its collaborators from business, government and nonprofit sectors are planting the seeds of deep-rooted and robust transformation in food systems that will insure a bright future for rural communities and the surrounding natural landscapes.

Our Programs and Services:

We offer to producer groups a wide range of services to farm and rural communities including:

  • Cooperative Development and Capacity Building

  • Cooperative Business Management

  • Marketing Systems Development

  • Sustainable Production and Postharvest Handling Practices

Together, these programs link sustainable, community-focused economic development based on food and farming with a deep and lasting commitment to the integrity and diversity of natural systems.

Cooperative Development and Capacity Building

A key to successful cooperative or collective enterprises is training farmer members, boards, and management personnel in the basics of the purpose and utility of agricultural cooperatives in the market place.
AgroFrontera conducts education and outreach programs aimed at transferring concepts of cooperative rules and regulations, structure, function and management. While some programs only focus on economic and business principals, AgroFrontera dedicates time and resources to address social factors that permit cooperative leadership and members to effectively, efficiently and inclusively manage the cooperative enterprises.

AgroFrontera conducts institutional capacity building activities that target farmer leaders and enterprise managers, government agricultural agency personnel, and local and regional representatives of nonprofit organizations serving farmers. The program improves the performance and effectiveness of association leaders and members and operation managers involved in developing and implementing food supply chains.

Our capacity building programs assist cooperative and association leaders in developing a framework that stabilizes and increases cooperative or association membership, promotes effective communication and problem-solving skills, and provides a forum to set goals, objectives and work plans that are participatory and inclusive. This program enhances effective participatory leadership skills and business management capacity for leaders of agricultural cooperatives and associations. The program stresses the strength and value added of collective action. Training activities focus on individual responsibility, leadership, and ownership in stewarding successful collective action in sustainable food supply chains.

A strong leadership and human resource development program create a systems perspective for team building within the farmer organization leadership and enterprise management. AgroFrontera personnel assist in the development of cooperative management and operating procedures and criteria that clearly define roles, responsibilities and feedback loops. Important social and institutional capacity building skills such as strategic planning and conflict resolution are integrated into AgroFrontera cooperative development programs.

Cooperative Business Management

AgroFrontera works with farmer groups to develop sound business plans and enterprise management strategies. Farmer leaders receive detailed and practical instruction on how to write effective business plans based on the unique needs and opportunities of each collective enterprise. The business plans include formulating projected volume of business and creating business management organizational charts, estimating needs of facilities, creating operating procedures, and projecting needs for capitalization of the collective enterprises. AgroFrontera documents the farmers’ production experiences (for both domestic and international markets) and surveys farmers to discover business services that need to be provided. The business plan program includes the analysis and review of the costs of operating and maintaining potential enterprises, and predicting start-up expenses, including initial capital requirements.

AgroFrontera personnel instruct farmer leaders and enterprise managers on key components of collective enterprise management, including issues of membership, leadership, and incorporation. AgroFrontera assists in composing organizational agreements that include initial vision and mission statements. Our personnel facilitate organizational meetings and assist in the draft articles of incorporation as well as filing for formal incorporation.

Another important function of AgroFrontera in the development of the business plan is to provide farmer cooperative leaders with a clear roadmap to financial self-sufficiency in terms of managing and operating the cooperative enterprises. Access to credit for smallholder farmers and their associated agricultural businesses is often a major obstacle to the implementation of new food supply chains. As part of the business plan, AgroFrontera assesses agricultural credit needs and discovers the social, economic, cultural, and political barriers and opportunities that may define sustainable agricultural finance arrangements and structures for agricultural cooperatives and associations. AgroFrontera makes specific agricultural finance recommendations and action plans for cooperatives to support the new food supply chains.

Marketing Systems Development

AgroFrontera employs a value-based product marketing and development methodology to propose and map potential new food supply chains for farmer cooperatives and associations. AgroFrontera works with cooperatives to identify problems, needs and benefits for stakeholders at each transaction point along the food supply chain. We estimate a value of the product at each stage, emphasizing the discovery of the incremental value delivered via competitive advantages for each food supply chain stakeholder. Costs and prices for different markets are estimated based on pricing segments analysis, pricing leverage analysis, pricing strategy and marketing strategy. This, in turn, determines the product development and investment in manufacturing costs that can be justified.

Sustainable Production and Postharvest Handling Practices

AgroFrontera works with grower cooperatives and associations to improve the environmental soundness and social responsibility of farming systems. Integrated pest, nutrient and water management programs are designed and implemented for a wide range of farm enterprises. AgroFrontera has trained personnel who work with cooperatives and their farmer members to achieve and maintain organic certification. AgroFrontera recently began a dialog with Rainforest Alliance so that farmers can adopt socially responsible practices based on the Sustainable Agriculture Standards proposed by the Sustainable Agriculture Network.

AgroFrontera works with agricultural cooperatives to reduce postharvest losses and improve the quality of products entering the food supply chains. Our programs concentrate on improving the operations and businesses necessary for receiving, handling, storing and delivering food from growers to food supply chain stakeholders. We place special emphasis is placed on pre-harvest practices that affect the products further down the food supply chain. AgroFrontera personnel have received training in and assist farmers in designing and implementing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards.

For new products and food supply chains, AgroFrontera collaborates with cooperatives and other food supply chain stakeholders to determine operating requirements, including equipment and facility needs and packaging and label options. The assistance includes product test marketing and product introduction.

The Sustainable Food Laboratory

The work of AgroFrontera is informed and inspired by our membership in the Sustainable Food Laboratory. The mission of the Sustainable Food Lab is to accelerate improvement in mainstream food and agriculture systems so we can sustain a high quality life on earth.

Leaders from businesses, governments, farm groups and non-governmental organizations throughout Europe, The United States and Latin America are engaging in dialogue and action to achieve changes in the food supply chain that are more ambitious than they could achieve separately.

AgroFrontera’s participation in the Sustainable Food Laboratory facilitates cross learning with other global innovations for improving national and international food supply chains. Read more about the Sustainable Food Laboratory (
www.sustainablefood.org )


 


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