The original ICM model or ICM 1.0 focuses on promoting an integrated network of cooperatives in the communities.
The model includes – producer cooperatives, marketing cooperatives, and financial cooperatives – that work closely together to serve the economic needs of both individual members and cooperatives themselves.
Together, these cooperatives offer a suite of services for a holistic and integrated approach to rural development. CDF Canada has been using The ICM 1.0 for decades (and is still in use) by partners in Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Colombia. An in-depth study of the integrated model in 2010 found that farmers had improved access to markets and extension services through their production and marketing cooperatives and improved access to credit through their membership in financial cooperatives. Implementation of the integrated model resulted in improved household income and increased food security for both males- and female-headed households. See figure 1 for ICM 1.0 and figure 2 for the ICM application in Uganda.
From 2020 to 2021, CDF Canada is actively exploring the application of ICM 2.0 as a potential international development approach to deal with climate change, the pandemic, and other potential crises.
The concept of ICM 2.0+ is the result of rounds of discussion and research. Therefore, this model ICM 2.0+ combines two parts: “ICM2.0” and the “plus. ICM2.0 plays a role as a social or institutional solution: program delivery or technological adoption vehicle.
And the “plus” is the scientific or technological practices (such as climate-smart agriculture practices) or thematic programs targeting specific topics or issues (such as emergent covid-19 response in rural communities).
The rationale behind the ICM 2.0+ approach is that ICM 2.0, focuses on three essential elements of communities’ economic needs and by using cooperatives (locally-owned economic and social entity) as a vehicle. This can help to mobilize local motivations and engagement, adapt to local culture and norms, cultivate the local human capital, and achieve economic or financial viability, so that the changes (of the “plus”) brought to the communities by the international development projects can survive and develop sustainably beyond the term of the projects.
The center of the three elements (production, marketing, and financial access) is the targeting goal or topic or practice (such as the pandemic response). These elements are the three legs to support the practice’s viability. For example, for a climate-smart agriculture practice to be economically sustainable in the local community, the farmers need to see financial success in marketing the products or get compensated if they sacrifice their income to reducing carbon emission. In this process, cooperatives play a significant role in supporting farmers to achieve these goals.
During the process, access to finance is essential for both farmers and cooperatives. (Please see the two figures below for two examples regarding climate change and the pandemic response in the rural communities.) Of course, we are at an early stage to develop the ICM 2.0+ model, and more field evidence is much needed to evaluate the model. In the future, CDF Canada will continuously improve the ICM model (ICM 1.0, ICM 2.0, and ICM 2.0+) based on the changing needs, the lesson learned, and evidence collected from our projects.