The Role of Cooperatives

Better Together

The Role of Cooperatives - Better Together: Dr. William Rolleston explains the importance of cooperatives
The Role of Cooperatives - Better Together: Dr. William Rolleston explains the importance of cooperatives
Dr. William Rolleston, acting president of the World Farmers’ Organisation, explains why farming cooperatives have become even more important for us all.

Agriculture is fundamental to nearly all economies. It is the one sector that is dedicated to human food and nutrition security and it contributes to social stability. It is important to remember that agriculture provides work opportunities for people – either directly or indirectly – and it makes significant contributions to most national economies, particularly in developing nations.

By the year 2050, the world population is projected to reach 10 billion people. To meet the massive task of feeding a growing world population, agriculture requires a renewed commitment to innovation in food production. To be successful, technology providers must collaborate with universities and other stakeholders to ensure that farmers across the world have the tools they need to increase their productivity and protect their livelihood.

While most farmers are known for their characteristic self-sufficiency, they know there are benefits when they work together. Over times, farmers have found that associating in organizations and cooperatives can reinforce their institutional capacity and improve their negotiation capability with public and private sector entities. And these cooperatives can bring value not only to farmers, but to all of us.

The cooperative business model provides an alternative means of doing business and furthering socioeconomic development. Cooperative farming enterprises have been effective in generating employment opportunities and in encouraging greater social integration. Furthermore, modern cooperatives can increase farming productivity, profitability and create more sustainable enterprises, enabling many farmers to escape crippling poverty across the globe.

Dr. William Rolleston, acting president of the World Farmers’ Organisation

Agricultural cooperatives will become even more important in light of the need to increase our global food supply and ensure food security for all.

Dr. William Rolleston, acting president of the World Farmers’ Organisation

The Power of Partnerships

Agricultural cooperatives play a significant role in today’s food-consumption-energy value chain. No doubt they will become even more important in light of the need to increase our global food supply and ensure food security for all. Cooperatives can help expand the economic opportunities for all segments of society, helping to provide stable jobs for many women, men and youth (especially in rural areas).

The World Farmers’ Organisation

The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) is the global voice of farming. It aims to bring together all the national producer and farm cooperative organizations to develop policies which support farmers’ causes in developed and developing countries worldwide. For example, the WFO supports farmers to help manage price volatility, leverage market opportunities and provide timely access to market information.

Working together in a united approach can give farmers more leverage in managing their businesses: Farming cooperatives facilitate growers’ participation in decision-making at all levels, support them in securing land-use rights, and negotiate better terms for engagement in contract farming and lower prices for agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilizer and equipment. By taking advantage of the cooperative support, farmers can do more than secure their livelihoods – they can also play a greater role in meeting the growing demand for food in local, national and international markets. The result? Greater economic stability and professional opportunities allow them to contribute to poverty alleviation, food security and the eradication of hunger.

The advantage of the ‘collective’ is that it allows vulnerable individuals to pull resources together, share benefits and spread risks to overcome the inherent challenges that come with farming. The formation of effective cooperatives is also consistent with meeting many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to poverty, opportunity, the environment and sustainable food production. Cooperatives can lead to healthier lives; better education, increased employment, economic stability and provide equal opportunities for all, ensuring greater gender equality and societal stability.

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Expanding Circles

Participation in cooperatives also establishes effective public-private partnerships that serve the interests of all stakeholders, including producers and consumers at national and global levels. Cooperatives allow farmers to engage directly with the private sector, enabling the sharing of technology and know-how to increase agricultural sustainability. This knowledge exchange may include fundamental management skills, innovative techniques in agriculture and custom-designed product packaging, allowing a more efficient use of inputs in farming systems. Increased efficiencies will help contribute to greater food security and a more sustainable agricultural future for the generations that come after us.

In a highly interdependent global economy, we cannot afford to work in silos. We must establish flourishing partnerships which bring benefits to farmers and society to meet the needs of an ever-increasing world population. Cooperatives will continue to play an important role in solidifying these vital partnerships and ultimately in the socio-economic wellbeing of this planet.

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September 24, 2018 - 04:17 AM

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