4 November 2012

Africa: Agricultural Cooperatives Can Help End Global Hunger, Says UN Food Agency

Agricultural cooperatives provide small-scale food producers with what may be their best chance to compete in global markets, the head of the United Nations food agency said today, adding that cooperative units were particularly important for farmers in the developing world.

Speaking at a week-long meeting of the World Cooperatives Congress in Manchester, England, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, told gathered delegates that cooperatives can help small- and medium-scale farmers and fishermen add value to their production and gain access to wider markets.

"Cooperatives follow core values and principles that are critical to doing business in an equitable manner, that seeks to empower and benefits its members and the community it is inserted in," said Mr. Graziano da Silva.

"This is especially relevant in poor rural communities, where joining forces is central to promoting sustainable local development," he added.

Mr. Graziano da Silva stated that in a world that produces enough food for all and despite gains in the fight against hunger, it was "unacceptable" that close to 870 million people continue to suffer from chronic malnutrition. He further stated that greater cooperativization would help reduce hunger and poverty across poor rural communities.

"Whether you are in the UK, Brazil, Kenya, Thailand, or Nepal, cooperatives help to generate employment, boost national economies and reduce poverty," he noted. "This, in turn, helps to improve food security."

The FAO chief emphasized that his agency was committed to fostering the growth of agricultural cooperatives around the world and hinted at the appointment of special ambassadors for cooperatives to promote the issue, as well as develop approaches, guidelines, methodologies and training tools on organizational development and policy.

Moreover, he called on those gathered to contribute to the global plan of action expected to emerge from events held in honour of the International Year of Cooperatives - a year-long celebration currently being observed in 2012.

Copyright © 2012 UN News Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.