News / Health

World Food Day: Co-Operatives Feed People Around Globe

A woman sits between piles of corn as she removes the husks on a road located on the outskirts of Beijing, October 16, 2012.A woman sits between piles of corn as she removes the husks on a road located on the outskirts of Beijing, October 16, 2012.
x
A woman sits between piles of corn as she removes the husks on a road located on the outskirts of Beijing, October 16, 2012.
A woman sits between piles of corn as she removes the husks on a road located on the outskirts of Beijing, October 16, 2012.
Selah Hennessy
Agricultural co-operatives are an important tool in the global fight against hunger, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. It's a point being underscored on World Food Day.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's Eve Crowley said agricultural co-operatives are important because they have social objectives, mobilize resources locally, and focus on sustainability. What is more, she said, they turn a good profit.

“When you add up the economic turnover of the 300 largest co-operatives alone, it's equivalent to 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars per year, which is roughly the same as the 10th-largest economy in the world, Canada.”

Co-operatives are associations of people who voluntarily form jointly-owned and democratically-run enterprises. Crowley said co-operatives have one billion members globally, and they create at least 100,000 jobs.

“The point is when you put them all together they are having an enormous impact on global finances, on global agricultural production, and on the availability and quality of food that people eat,” said Crowley.

According to the United Nations, nearly one-in-seven people suffer from undernourishment. It says small-holder farmers will provide much of the extra food needed as the global population grows to an estimated 9 billion by the year 2050.   

Crowley said co-operatives are good at withstanding turbulent economic times, and that was demonstrated during the recent financial crisis when food prices soared and many businesses struggled to survive. Co-operatives weathered the economic storm well, she pointed out.

“They were interested in the long-term security of their members, so they tended to be less speculative in the way that they ran themselves.  And in addition, when crisis hit, and if there was a shortfall in funding, in many cases members themselves chipped in to make the co-operative work,” she said.

Africa Advocacy Coordinator for the campaign group Action Aid, Henry Malumo, spoke to VOA from South Africa. He said co-operatives are key to giving small-holder farmers a stronger voice.

“It is the small-holder farmers that actually produce most of the food that is consumed, especially in poor and rural communities that business and private sector cannot reach," said Malumo. "So bringing back co-operatives and emphasizing the need to support small-holder farmers is a welcome decision and one that has been needed for so long.”

His agency, Action Aid, said that land grabs - when large chunks of land in developing countries are bought or leased by governments and big businesses - are a major problem for many small-holder farmers in developing nations. He said by working together in co-operatives, however, workers can protect themselves.

“As a united voice, they will be able to challenge and be able to confront businesses, illegal government dues, and ensuring that the land for communities remains for communities. And that people are actually given access and ownership to land,” he said.

Malumo said co-operatives have helped lift living standards in the developing world, but in many countries women have not played an equal role in co-operatives. He said if co-operatives are to grow to their full potential, more needs to be done to boost the role of women in the co-operative movement around the world.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs