MoBerry Cooperative: several berry farmers join forces to show they can be competitive together
In the Republic of Moldova, MoBerry is one of the cooperatives that bring together several berry farmers specialized in growing and processing berries. This unit promotes the principles of collaboration, regardless of gender or age, to improve the living conditions of small farmers and adapt to the degradation of natural resources by gradually introducing environmentally-friendly farming methods and environmentally-friendly solutions. MoBerry brings together farmers who grow strawberries, gooseberry, josta, raspberries, blackberries, rosehips and chokeberry.
"For us, it is important to grow the cooperative based on democratic values, in order to respond to the aspirations and development needs of all members. The financial and intellectual forces of these seven members are clearly superior to a single person. Testing and implementing new ideas and products, paying attention to investments and their profitability, protecting contributions, can be done more easily in a diverse team. In this way, we manage to maintain the balance between innovation and investment stability. "
Aneta Ganenco, president of the cooperative
Common vision and cooperation
Started in 2016, MoBerry deals with packaging, marketing, sales and distribution and owns a processing entity in the city of Ialoveni. Its team was formed through negotiation, establishing a common and representative vision for the households involved. They have joined forces to develop the association processes, decide the degree of autonomy, the collaboration stages and the jointly developed products. Each is involved through ideas, external partnerships, products, processing and equipment put into use and thus managed to set up some processing lines. Members work hard in their own households, cooperate for visibility, credibility and access to various programs, and in the future plan to focus on exports, subsidies and investments.
Six nationally certified products, and more
The MoBerry products are not quite cheap, they fall into the category of delicacies and respectively require an approach focused on quality and the conscious customer who wants healthy and local foods. Therefore, products are required to be closer to the consumer, fast delivery, accessibility in the marketing networks, where consumers make their purchases, and a continued diversification of products. By processing, they obtain different types of jam from chokeberries, josta, gooseberries. Gradually, the cooperative introduces ecological products, for moral, social and economic reasons. They have six assets certified by both the national and one international certification bodies. Among these products are sea buckthorns and rosehips, which come from the north of the country. The company "Roseline", being part of the cooperative, is the one that introduces various organic foods from roses and rosehip powder.
"Our cooperation also contributes to technology transfer with external partners. As a result of the joint efforts of scientists, financial organizations and agricultural farmers, new food models are being born to improve the nutritional quality of food. Within the joint works in the technology transfer project, financed by the National Agency for Research and Development (ANCD), we developed new recipes for bakery products (bread, pasta, muffins), confectionery (several types of sugar-free sweets) and products dairy products (yogurts, ice cream and curd). Laboratory studies have confirmed the excellent taste and beneficial qualities of new products. Now it remains for us to find specialized entrepreneurs who would be interested in making these products. "
Natalia Zvonițcaia, co-founder of "Roseline"
MoBerry is a dynamic member of the association "Pomușoarele Moldovei" and actively participates in the promotion and development of the subsector through training, study visits, round tables, meetings between partners and between associations to contribute to modernization and adaptation to national and international society and market requirements. Thus, they obtained support from the USAID program for Performance Agriculture in the Republic of Moldova, which supports small berry producers in marketing local products through large marketing networks and MoBerry participates proactively in quality control and logistical organization of collection and distribution processes through these networks. It, therefore, facilitates the adaptation of small and medium-sized farmers, young people, women and other disadvantaged groups to the effects of the pandemic while contributing to the well-being of rural communities.