Some members of the non-financial cooperatives movement are exploring opportunities to operate overseas.
Word of this has come from acting Registrar of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies, Brent Gittens, who said that under the Cooperatives Society Act Cap 378 A Section 21(a), a cooperative is allowed to operate in jurisdictions outside of Barbados depending on the laws of Barbados and the country in which they are looking to operate in.
“Years ago, most cooperatives or all cooperatives would always say that their operations would be in Barbados. But now, we are seeing some of the newer cooperatives looking at operating regionally or even globally, and these are the non-financial cooperatives that we are talking about as opposed to the credit unions – the financial cooperatives,” he told the Barbados Government Information Service in a recent interview.
Mr. Gittens said there have been requests to reactivate from dormant cooperatives, especially those in the agricultural sector.
He said, so far, the Spring Hall Land lease – a cooperative registered for over 30 years and the St. Andrew’s Small Farmers’ and Cottage Industries Co-op, registered in the 1990s, have expressed an interest in reactivation.
“That has come about mainly as a result of young farmers expressing an interest in forming coops and depending on the area you are in, we would guide and say… ‘there is a coop there, see if you can get in contact with some of the members to see if they would be interested in restarting’. That would, more or less, save you the hassle of starting from scratch,” he advised.
He pointed out that it was no surprise that the majority of requests for reactivation came from farming coops, as the COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of food security.
“The COVID-19 situation showed us, in no uncertain terms, that food security is an absolute necessity. If you cannot feed yourself, or produce enough to feed yourself, then you would be exposed to whatever. Suppose we were not able to get supplies coming in, we would have to go back to World War II when plantations were forced by legislation to set aside some of their production,” Mr. Gittens added.