Are Agricultural Co-ops the solution to world hunger?

Sebastian von Holstein
Monday, 15th October 2012

World Food Day is combined with the last day of the Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action, promoting independence for farmers and a possible solution to world hunger.

The last day of the Seed Freedom fortnight of action is upon us and at this same time, we raise awareness for World Food Day. The topic of Seed sovereignty is largely an effort to promote the independence of farmers and growers the world over. In this spirit, World Food Day is working to focus on the power of cooperatives to give these same farmers the choice to opt out of the unsustainable pathways proposed to them by the agricultural industry.

Set by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation, this year's theme is 'Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world'. The theme outlines the importance of small, diverse, localised food production as opposed to today's industrial, large-scale, unhealthy alternatives.

World Food Day - Educating the World on Food Poverty

The Campaign for Real Farming have produced a wonderful diagram weighing up agroecology against conventional industrial agriculture. It is absolutely worth having a look at, simply click the following link: Campaign for Real Farming Soil to Sky infographic

Here at Permaculture, we have also reduced the price of Patrick Whitefield's Earth Care Manual for the occasion. World Food Day is predominantly a time for education and we feel that This manual is the most comprehensive of its type. Crucially it offers a viable, tested alternative to unsustainbale methods of food production. It is available on Green Shopping.

World Food Day 2012 Message of the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva

"This year's theme was chosen 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.

Since the food crisis of 2007-8 many countries have renewed their commitment to eradicating hunger in the world and improving livelihoods. But in some cases, concrete political, programme and financial support are lagging behind verbal commitments. The opportunity that the food price spikes of 2007-2008 might have provided as a pathway out of poverty for small producers was not realized.

Every day, 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. 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.

Evidence shows that those strong cooperatives and producer organizations are able to overcome these constraints and to mitigate the negative effects of food and other crises. Strong producer organizations have helped to fill a void. For instance, they can reduce costs to farmers by allowing them to purchase in groups and benefit from better retail prices of agricultural inputs. They also make it possible for members to voice their concerns and interests – and to play a role in decision and policy making processes."

For more info, please have a look at The Earth Care Manual and How to Make a Forest Garden

Click here to learn more about Seed Sovereignty

The official World Food Day program is available from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)