Reviewing the roles of rural cooperatives in the extension of agricultural value chain, we will find that rural cooperatives do help farmers, espcially small farmers to enter the market.
When I was visiting a rural cooperative in Xinjiang project, i witnessed that farmers were busy in loading sweet melons into the trucks of traders. Farmers told me that before the setup of the rural cooperative, they had difficulty in selling sweet melons. But now the farmers are "united' and the scale was tens of times than the indivisual farmers. Traders were happy to come as the cost was much lower. Besides, the leader of the rural cooperative having a long history in working with traders fully utilized her network and made the marketing so much easy.
Ministry of Agriculture also issues policies to promote the market access through the "direct link of rural cooperatives and supermarkets" and the "direct link of rural cooperatives and schools'. This policy aims to reduce the distribution cost so that farmers can benefit more.
Some rural cooperatives open retail stores in urban areas and their products can be sold in the stores. It is another effective means in participating in market.
I think the rural cooperatives have good potential to enhance the market access of small farmers. There are a couple of issues worthy of attention:
a) farmers shall continue to improve the product quality. The products with quality gurantee have very good price in Beijing's super markets. I think in order to ensure the profitability and sustainability, the most important thing is to enhance the quality.
b) rural cooperatives could think about the "union' of themselves, so the scale can even enlarge. It will allow the diversification of products as well. For the retail stores operated by rural cooperatives, it would be a advantage if they have enriched products for sale.