2008 Winner
Rui'an City, Zhejiang Province
Innovations and Excellence in Local Chinese Government
Innovations and Excellence in Local Chinese Government

This program is a winner of the "Local Government with Best Sense of Responsibility" Award.

On June 22, 2005, the Rui'an Municipal People's Government issued a Notice of Intent to Establish an Organization Committee for The Rui'an Municipal Farmers Cooperative Association and, on March 25, 2006, the Association was officially established. This Association is an umbrella cooperative for the area's cooperatives. Its goal is to ensure that the needs of farmers are addressed and reforms of the financial, marketing and scientific systems are enacted. By integrating diverse resources, it is able to ensure that specialized cooperatives and government agencies are more responsive to farmers needs.

The Association drew on experiences from the European-American model of rural specialized cooperatives and the Japanese-Korean model of rural community cooperatives and adapted these models to the Chinese rural reality. The Farmers' Association is registered as a social organization with legal status. Its functional departments, including supply and marketing, credit, and agricultural technology, are registered as private non-enterprise entities and provide their services independently. Village-based cooperatives joined as independent legal entities.

Specialized groups including trading cooperatives, rural cooperative banks, and the Association for Commissioners of Agricultural Technology are core members. In addition, rural households joined as intermediary members. The Association than began to bring rural specialized cooperatives into the organization and offer instruction, assistance, and direct services to Association members. It assisted by restructuring grass-roots supply and marketing cooperatives to ensure they provide satisfactory service to farmers and agricultural businesses.

Small stockholders of the rural cooperative bank entrusted their stock shares to the Association. The rural credit guarantee company, financial cooperatives and the rural cooperative bank stepped up their activities to provide better services, including credit ratings, joint guarantees, guarantees, counter-guarantees, and mutual financing.

Through collaboration and inclusion, The Farmers' Cooperative Association established new communication patterns that relied on the structures of existing cooperatives. It not only facilitated development of the member cooperatives but also deepened the reform of government departments. Its unique status also allowed it to obtain assistance from non-governmental organizations and volunteers who provided a range of assistance including help with construction projects. The Association provided resources and opportunities to specialized cooperatives to assist them in meeting their goals for agricultural development. In addition, it ensured that agricultural technicians provide useful information and specialized agricultural technology to enterprises and farmers. As a result of this work, subsidies and technical support are now easily accessible to farmers in grassroots cooperatives.

Since its inception, the Association has helped rural cooperatives obtain important results.

  • It upgraded the levels of effectiveness of specialized organizations particularly those relating to production and circulation of farm products and transformed functions performed by government agencies.
  • As of June 2007, it had obtained credit for 30,000 households and 24 cooperatives. In addition, it assisted local cooperative banks and rural credit guarantee companies obtain loans.
  • It developed a trademark "Ruinongxie" (which means The Farmers' Cooperatives Association in Rui'an). This trademark facilitated market entry of 64 products into 39 supermarkets and numerous market stalls. Through collective purchasing, the supply and marketing department of the Association offers 300 kinds of agricultural production materials at reduced prices.
  • By combining the technology services of member organizations, the Association established a technology department that provides instruction and training about new varieties of crops and promotes agricultural cooperation and communication.

To ensure that farmers continue to play a lead role in agricultural production and rural development, the Association has identified two areas that require further attention. Within the existing institutional framework, the Association believes it is necessary to further align the goals of government departments, and further define the roles of members and stakeholders, including credit cooperative banks, ordinary cooperatives, supply and marketing cooperatives and rural householders.