Agricultural cooperatives in Romania double turnover in recent years (survey)

Agricultural cooperatives have doubled their turnover in recent years, and in 2022, the 1,235 entities that have submitted their financial statements reported a turnover of 4.26 billion RON, an increase of almost three times compared to 2020, reveals a research conducted by the Romanian Centre for European Policies (CRPE), within the project “CoopNet 3.0 – We increase the capacity of small farmers’ cooperatives.”

At the same time, between 2017 and 2023, the number of members associated in agricultural cooperatives increased by 263%, from just over 8,700 to almost 23,000, and the main reasons given for setting up such a cooperative is the possibility of accessing European funds (85% of respondents) and the trade of products (84%).

According to the results of the survey, representatives of about half of the cooperatives said that these were set up to benefit from the tax exemptions granted to agricultural cooperatives and to make their activity more efficient. In contrast, 15% of new cooperatives stated that they accessed public funds (through the 2014-2020 NDP) and only 6% that they obtained funds from banks or non-bank financial institutions (NFIs).

Also, more than half of the respondents (54%) said that difficult access to finance is not the only problem faced by agricultural cooperatives in their start-up phase. Thus, 43% of them face difficulties in entering the market and 22% have problems in finding qualified and/or trained staff for support roles (manager, lawyer, sales agent).

However, in 2022, the cumulative turnover of the 1,235 cooperatives that submitted their financial statements was about 4.26 billion RON, almost three times higher than the 1.6 billion RON recorded in 2020. Compared to the size of the entire agricultural sector in Romania, cooperatives accounted for about 4% in 2022, compared to 2% in 2020, basically doubling their market share in just three years.

Data from the 2020 General Agricultural Census shows that there were 2.88 million registered farms in Romania, almost one million fewer than in the 2010 census.

The survey was conducted by a consortium of NGOs consisting of the Romanian Centre for European Policies (CRPE), Civitas Foundation for Civil Society Cluj (Civitas) and the Community Safety and Mediation Centre (CMSC), with financial support from the Romanian-American Foundation. The research consisted of two components: a survey conducted on a sample of 153 young cooperatives (established between 2020 and 2023) and a desk research study using information provided by the National Trade Register Office (ONRC), valid at the end of 2022.