Present at the Opening Ceremony of Co-operatives United, José Graziano da Silva highlighted the important role agricultural co-operatives play in food security and fighting poverty. The Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said the co-ops deserve a worldwide recognition for their contribution to building a better world.
This is why the FAO has themed this year’s World Food Day “Agricultural co-operatives, key to feeding the world”.
Mr Graziano da Silva said the role of agricultural co-ops is especially relevant in poor rural communities and that co-ops empower small farmers, helping small and medium farmers to gain access to global markets.
“Thanks to co-ops many producers are taking part in policy making discussions that affect their lives-co-ops are an excellent tool for social economic development. Whether in the UK, Brazil, Nepal, co-ops help to boost national economies and improve food security – this is a challenge all of us need to be involved in,” he said.
The FAO Director-General said that although recent figures revealed by the organisation show that the world has made progress in terms of food security and the number of people in hunger has decreased, improvements are still needed. According to Mr Graziano da Silva, the objective of the FAO is ‘ZERO hunger’.
“Co-ops are already helping us to improve food security but we can do much more,” he said.
“The FAO has embraced this challenge. I urge the co-operative movement to do the same. We can together defeat hunger if we join our forces: private sector, pharmacies, coops, governments, international organisations.”
He added the Millennium Development Goals can still be reached, reducing by half the proportion of people in hunger around the world. The FAO Director-General said the fight against hunger is a major challenge in Africa.
He also emphasised on the need to cut down high levels of food waste, whilst making sure that people have access to nutrition.
Mr Graziano da Silva also mentioned the Dunsany declaration, saying it puts forward future perspective and provides an important contribution to the global plan of action.
He also encourages co-operators from across the world to support next year’s International Year of Farming.
José Graziano da Silva concluded his speech by encouraging co-operators to support next year’s United Nations International Year of farming, saying that there is a direct link between co-operatives and farming, which has already been explored in 2012, the International Year of Co-operatives.