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The latest tools for professionalizing the nearest agriculture

Some habits of consumption are changing a year after the pandemic.

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The latest tools for professionalizing the nearest agriculture

Some habits of consumption are changing a year after the pandemic. According to data from Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, online sales of agrifood products (including fresh ones), have increased by 92 percent and 114.5%, respectively. The number of people who think we will be more responsible with our consumption and bet on fair trade is also increasing. A survey by the Catalan Consumer Agency found that 60.5% of respondents think this.

These findings are consistent with those of the Dimmons research team of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, (IN3) of Open University of Catalonia (UOC). Ricard Espelt is one of its members. He believes that these changes in consumption could favor the development alternative models such as agroecological cooperatives. Espelt led a study published in Journal of Rural Studies in which he examined the impact of new information-communication technologies (ICTs), on the organization model of cooperatives, and the potential for their growth.

According to the report, the higher the level of professionalization in some tasks within these organizations, the better their digital adoption and the more potential for scaling them into the market. The role of social networks and digital platforms in the agroecology system was the focus of the research.

This pilot project was conducted in Barcelona because it has 56 cooperatives and 177 suppliers. It is also the most important area in Spain for this type of analysis and one the ten best areas in the entire world. Food organizations make up more than half the activities of the "social and solid economy" (ESS), which in Barcelona accounts for 7%.

The research was based on qualitative interviews and an analysis of the content of the websites. It examined the levels of digital adoption and compliance with the principles for fair trade and cooperation as well as the professionalization of these organisations. One of the conclusions was that cooperatives are hesitant to become professionalized, which can limit their growth potential.

Technology has become an extremely useful tool for the interaction between consumers and cooperatives. Many people have realized this and are using these tools in their activities. However, there are significant differences between professionally managed cooperatives that almost all have created a digital platform and those that have a more voluntary management, which makes them less technologically advanced.

According to the UOC, social networks have allowed "a lot more awareness, knowledge, and interest work to be done". This has allowed the message about agri-food cooperatives to reach a wider population. The management model makes some distinctions. All professionalized managers have a presence online and keep it updated, but only 53% have an open profile and only publish it online. A few times per day.

Agroecological cooperatives are only 34% of those that use free software, according to the report. He points out that although these organizations are committed to food sovereignty and have rules of the game that promote social justice between producers and consumers, they don't pay the same attention to the control of technology.

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