Ethiopian Press Agency (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Agricultural Cooperatives Key for Food Security - MoA

Hossaena — The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) said that Agricultural Cooperatives are key elements for food security and eradication of poverty in the country.

Speaking at an event marking this year's World Food Day nationaly in Hossaena town, Hadiya Zone, State Minister of Agriculture Mitiku Kassa said that the role of cooperatives in every state is vital in addressing both social and economic problems.

According to him, cooperatives have created job opportunities for hundreds of millions of citizens globally. In order to maximize the role of Agricultural Cooperatives and encourage their effort, different governmental and non-governmental organizations should support them in a proper manner, he added.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director General Jose Graziano da Silva, through his representative said that the theme: "Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World" was chosen in this year's celebration to highlight the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment and lift people out of poverty.

He said small producers around the world continue to face constraints that keep them from reaping the benefits of their labour and contributing to food security not only for themselves but for all through active participation in markets every day. However, poor infrastructure and limited access to services and information, productive assets and markets, as well as poor representation in decision making processes mean that this potential is not realized, he said.

"It has been repeatedly said that we have the means to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. What is needed is the establishment of an enabling environment that allows small producers to take full advantage of available opportunities. Strong cooperatives and producer organizations are an essential part of that enabling environment," he noted.

World Food Programme (WFP) Representative and Country Director Abdou Dieng said: "Agriculture remains the main source of employment and income in rural areas, where the majority of the world's poor and hungry people live; rural agricultural cooperatives play a key role in feeding the world. Agricultural cooperatives support smallholder farmers and marginalized groups such as young people and women whose pooled resources provide them purchasing and negotiating power. Rural cooperatives also empower their members economically and socially through better access to markets and create sustainable rural employment, he added.

Abdou further indicated that the UN World Food Programme is well known for its assistance with general food distributions. "However, one has to acknowledge that the best gift we can give to a country is for us to be able to leave this country, which will mean that food assistance has become irrelevant."

Hadiya Zone Administration Deputy Manager Degela Ergano on his part said that the role of collective action such as farmers cooperatives and self-help groups in providing some of the services to members and reduce transaction costs is very significant. According to Degela, there are 1923 farmers cooperatives engaged in 17 diversified activities with over 134,423 members. Government's action in this regard is to provide an enabling environment of regulation, enforcement and infrastructure for well managed cooperatives.

World Food Day is marked each year on 16 October, the day on which the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was founded in 1945. This year's theme for the day is "Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World."

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