Cooperating to sustain——Panzhihua

Mutual help

Local economy

The transformation of Panzhihua He-Ai Vegetable Growing Association (HAVGFA) to Lanba Vegetable Growing Cooperative (LVGC) is a living testimony to the way villagers put their hearts and actions into advancing their common interests. PCD was introduced to the HAVGFA in 2005 by the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences and the Agricultural Department of the provincial government. PCD supported HAVGFA members with trainings on values and principles of cooperatives based on international and local experiences, as well as on ecological agricultural practices through farmers’ field schools.

After several months of trainings, HAVGFA members, who became used to focus more on resolving technical and business farm issues, decided to organise themselves as a cooperative, taking advantage of the newly promulgated legislation on farmers’ cooperatives. In September 2007, LVGC was officially registered and around RMB 80,000 was raised by farmers themselves as initial capital. An agricultural production plan was drafted introducing a revolving loan scheme supported jointly by the local government and PCD, to promote ecological farming in the community. PCD continues to stand behind this new endeavour supporting organisational capacity building, the practice of ecological agriculture, and enhancing the spirit of mutual-help and support.

In LVGC, tasks are divided among members according to their specific strengths. Many focus on production, while some venture into marketing their produce. They have identified sales of farm produce as the main objective of the cooperative. Alongside these efforts the spirit of free and voluntary organisation, democratic practice and economic participation has gradually been strengthened.

After attending a series of learning activities, members of LVGC have started practising intercropping, recycling of farm resources, construction of chicken coops, and other methods of ecological farming, all with satisfying results. LVGC has also built up a consumer-producer relationship with a nearby community in Panzhihua Municipality. This enables a better understanding and appreciation of the benefits of ecological farming for sustainable living.