Financing models for farmers groups that use web collaboration tools

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Financing models for farmers groups that use web collaboration tools


Dutch dairy farmers living in the Alentejo, south Portugal, since mid-2005 have started to use "web 2.0" tools to support communication among each other. The core of the community is formed by 50-60 families, all recent (0-20 yrs) immigrants, all dairy producers. A womens group was started first, based on a Yahoo group. After some months e-mailing started, since October 2005 quarterly face-to-face meetings are organized with a specific theme of interest, where 25-30 women attend. As the women decided their group would not focus on farm business or milk production, a second group was started within the same community, with the particular interest of milk production, open to both men and women. This group started in May 2006 and is supported by a blog and a Google group. The groups are not externally supported other than by a community leader / technology steward, author of the case study. Although both groups are still young, and by no means mature or even stable, an account of the development paths and some lessons (to be) learned, as well as questions unsolved are presented. Respectively, they include:

Development path: introduction to the community, facts and figures of the two groups, activities of technology steward and (perceived) effect. Lessons: differences between the two groups, adoption of tools, roles of users vs. audience, horizontal and vertical communication Questions unsolved: membership, financing models, role of technology steward, internal vs. external communication, language.

Finally, a small reflection as to the potential use of web 2.0 tools for groups and conditions similar to the case study is given, such as bottom-up rural development, farmer-led extension, or linking immigrants to their new physical surroundings (host country) or, vice versa, providing emigrants with a link to their home country.

(end of abstract)

· Title of idea/project Financing models for farmers groups that use web collab tools

· Brief description (one paragraph) Web 2.0 tools offer possibilities to organize or collaborate where before this would not have been possible or too expensive. Groups can now emerge without any prior financial investment. These groups may have a large value for the users or for development in general, but are not institutionally sustainable as costs, however low, cannot be met in the long run. How can self-organizing groups incorporate sound financial models? What are designs that in an early stage take this cost-coverage issue into account? How can membership or transaction based fees help? What can local private businesses contribute? · Current stage (idea stage, early project development stage, etc.) see abstract for case study. In 1 of the portuguese groups this issue is solved by being deliberately low budget and sharing costs of events. In the other group the issue is unresolved. Sponsorship, web-ads are considered, but not so easy to realize.

· Possible peers or collaborators (n.b. they also need to be present at the workshop) anyone interested

· Estimated work time needed (9 hours maximum) Work on this issue could range from an experience sharing session of 1 hour to elaboration of models for the full 9 hours, depending on peoples interest.

· Support needs (facilitator, resources, facilities, etc.) just the people and normal workshop things: space, paper, pens,