Agricultural cooperatives- key to feeding the world

16 October Print

Agricultural cooperatives- key to feeding the world

Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue economic sustainability and social responsibility”Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

Nearly one in seven people suffers from undernourishment, yet the world has the means to eliminate hunger and fuel sustainable development. There is broad agreement that smallholder farmers will provide much of the extra food needed to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050. One of the keys to achieving food security is to support and invest in cooperatives, producer organizations and other rural institutions.

Cooperatives contribute to food security by helping small farmers and other producers access the information, tools and services they need. This allows them to increase food production, market their goods and create jobs, improving their own livelihoods and increasing global food security.

Through group purchasing and marketing, farmers gain market power and get better prices on agricultural inputs and other necessities. Cooperatives also facilitate their participation in decision making.

It is estimated that 1 billion individuals are members of cooperatives worldwide, generating more than 100 million jobs around the world. In agriculture, forestry, fishing and livestock, members participate in production, profit-sharing, cost-saving, risk-sharing and income-generating activities, which lead to better bargaining power for members as buyers and sellers in the marketplace.

The International Year of Cooperatives in 2012 celebrates the unique role that this “business model with a social conscience” plays in our modern world.

World Food Day 2012 shines a light on agricultural cooperatives in particular, and their contribution to poverty and hunger reduction. After all, of the nearly 900 million hungry people in the world today, 70 percent live in rural areas where agriculture is the economic mainstay.

Agricultural and food cooperatives are already a major tool against poverty and hunger, but they could do much more. It is time to strengthen these organizations and facilitate their expansion while creating favorable business, legal, policy and social climate in which they can thrive.

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