While in the European Union one out of four inhabitants is a member of a cooperative on average, in Croatia only five out of 1,000 inhabitants are members of cooperatives. According to the Financial Agency, a total of 904 cooperatives operated in Croatia in 2017.
According to the Agency for Payments in Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, in 2017 there were almost 160,000 family farms in Croatia. Today, there is a large untapped economic potential in the area, which consists of the possibility of merging a very large number of family farms into cooperatives. This would give them easier access to the market, which can help their competitiveness and give the agricultural sector a chance for stronger development.
In Croatia, which has the foundations and tradition of cooperatives, there is lot of space for a strong ‘wind behind’ the development of cooperatives, in line with the European policy and the promotion of the principle of social economy.
Cooperatives have significant potential as an instrument of socio-economic reintegration. They cannot provide a comprehensive solution to the social and economic problems of the transition economy, but they can play a significant role in increasing the employment and living standards of low-income groups and strengthening community renewal and development.
The AGRICOOPVALUE project is a very good tool for showing that potential and to show how to monetize the social value of an organization. One of the objectives of the project is to raise awareness of the importance of social accounting compared to traditional accounting, for the social economy sector. AGRRA, as a partner in the AGRICOOPVALUE project considers that knowing the importance of social value will have a large impact on the “picture” of cooperatives as a tool to “grow” and to make impact on a stronger development in the rural area of Zadar County.
All sectors are constantly facing many challenges, especially the agriculture sector and thus the new knowledge and know how in combination with the tradition are the best tools to learn and to face these challenges.