One hundred years of the Agricultural Cooperative "Vranjevo" in Novi Bečej: History and heritage

Discover the rich and diverse past of the Agricultural Cooperative 'Vranjevo' in Novi Bečej through the hundred-year experience of the community that shaped the rural economy. Read about its founding, changes over time, challenges and achievements, and how it influenced the life and work of peasants. Find out more about significant events, personalities and documents that bear witness to her priceless legacy that still shapes the local community today. This collection of texts provides an insight into the permanent commitment of cooperative members, their contribution to rural development and the lasting value of the "Vranjevo" Cooperative in Novi Bečej.

Preface

Preface

The book before you is published on the occasion of the centenary of the Agricultural Cooperative "Vranjevo." The cooperative was founded at a time when many other cooperatives were established with a common goal: to improve the economic status of villages and farmers, enhance both crop and livestock production, and facilitate trade while improving the market placement of agricultural products. It was recognized that fragmented land holdings and individual market approaches did not contribute to the well-being of rural life. In the era of developed capitalism and the consolidation of industrial production, accompanied by the concentration of power and capital in the hands of a minority, the majority was forced to find a proper response to such circumstances. The challenge was to devise a self-organizing mechanism that would enable prosperity and a more comfortable life for those who either lacked capital altogether or did not have it in sufficient measure. Cooperatives were and remain one of the responses of independent agricultural producers to the demands of the market.

Establishment of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač

Establishment of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač

The fundamental cooperative principles formulated by the oldest consumer cooperative founded in England in the town of Rochdale in 1844 were as follows:

- The principle of voluntariness, freedom of entry and exit from the cooperative,
- The "open-door principle,"
- The principle of democracy or the principle of equality,
- Limited interest on capital,
- Fair distribution of savings,
- Political, national, and religious neutrality,
- Cash payments, and
- Cooperative education and upbringing.

Serbian Peasant Cooperative in Vranjevo Between the Two World Wars

Serbian Peasant Cooperative in Vranjevo Between the Two World Wars

Between the two world wars, three types of cooperatives were present in Serbia: credit cooperatives, procurement and sales cooperatives, and production-consumer cooperatives (vineyard-winery, fruit, dairy, livestock, meadow-pasture, beekeeping, hemp, machinery, etc.). Credit cooperatives emerged in response to the need for favorable agricultural loans to accelerate the transition from natural to commodity agricultural production. Procurement and sales cooperatives were formed during the time of the Great Depression, which culminated in Yugoslavia after 1932, due to increased pressure from commercial capital and constant shortages of their own resources. These cooperatives sought to meet the growing needs of rural households first and then agricultural farms. It will be seen that the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač faced similar problems as its members.

Cooperatives in Novi Becej after World War II

Cooperatives in Novi Becej after World War II

In the period after World War II in Yugoslav agriculture, there were several cooperative forms, and their characteristics were determined by the political and economic system, the level of economic development, and the goals of agricultural and rural development. There were still procurement and sales cooperatives, characteristic of the period immediately after the war, due to the general shortage of industrial and agricultural products. Goods were distributed administratively, and through these cooperatives, industrial products were distributed evenly and fairly in rural areas to curb illegal trade.

Cooperation in Novi Bečej from the First Reforms to Today

Cooperation in Novi Bečej from the First Reforms to Today

According to Dragiša Šljivančanin, one of the presidents of the Cooperative Union of Yugoslavia, "The history of cooperatives in the territory of present-day Yugoslavia shows its ups and downs, true paths and detours, truths and misconceptions... Nevertheless, in the long run, the continuity of our cooperative organization and the confirmed strength of cooperative values have been preserved..." (Dragiša Šljivančanin, "Proven Cooperative Values," A Century and a Half of Cooperatives, Belgrade, Cooperative Union of Yugoslavia, 1995, p. 7). After World War II, agricultural cooperatives went through various phases in line with political, economic, and social changes in Yugoslav society and the state. At one point, agricultural cooperatives were completely abolished, merged into large economic systems, leading to the dissolution of the Cooperative Union of Yugoslavia, Serbia, Vojvodina, and all other cooperative organizations and bodies.

Preface

Preface

The significant centenary of 100 years of cooperation in Novi Bečej is the occasion for the publication of this Commemorative Book. In order to preserve from oblivion everything that preceded today's Agricultural Cooperative "Vranjevo," it is necessary to reflect on what has been.

In a very engaging, narratively unforced, and accessible manner, the Commemorative Book presents the development of the Cooperative from its foundation to the present day.

The formation of cooperatives among peasants emerged under very challenging conditions for the survival of small rural holdings. The primary need for money (working capital), organized procurement, and the sale of goods was evident. The early cooperatives also played an educational role in rural areas, a significant function given the high illiteracy rate among the rural population at that time.