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Focus on... Cooperatives

With 2012 designated as International Year of Cooperatives, this year's World Food Day brought numerous endorsements for the value of cooperation in tackling hunger and poverty. Pope Benedict XVI praised the "alternative economic vision" embodied by cooperatives, and FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva urged governments to "create conditions that allow producer organisations and cooperatives to flourish."

Cooperatives can help smallscale producers to attract buyers, access financial services and buy inputs at better prices. Other benefits highlighted in this section include developing efficient and reliable production systems and tackling deep rooted problems, such as aflatoxin contamination, where effective solutions require a coordinated approach by many actors. But cooperatives also have their own drawbacks; a group or committee approach to decision-making may, for instance, stifle the dynamism and focus that can be so critical to business success. So are agricultural cooperatives a 'key to feeding the world', as claimed by the World Food Day celebrations? We hope these articles help to inform the debate.

Cooperative enterprises - paradox or panacea?

Cooperative enterprises - paradox or panacea?

Lessons learned from Oxfam's Enterprise Development Programme highlight the need for business management, gender and environmental support, in strengthening small and medium enterprises to succeed in the face of numerous challenges.

Date published: November 2012

Lessons from Timor-Leste's ancient cooperative tradition

Lessons from Timor-Leste's ancient cooperative tradition

In Timor-Leste, traditional ceremonies are being promoted as a means of cementing collective decisions on access to fishing areas, land and forest resources. By recording written versions of these ceremonies, an FAO-implemented programme is working towards formal recognition of these community decisions.

Date published: November 2012

Regaining ground for Malawi's groundnuts

Regaining ground for Malawi's groundnuts

Exports of Malawian groundnuts were halted in the 1970s because of aflatoxin contamination. Since 2005, however, the trade has been resumed, following detection and control improvements facilitated by the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi, in partnership with ICRISAT.

Date published: November 2012

A fair share for Peru's alpaca producers

A fair share for Peru's alpaca producers

Alpaca keepers in the Peruvian Andes are improving their power in the marketplace through collective grading and selling of fleeces and fibre.

Date published: November 2012

Lesotho women prosper from pigs and poultry

Lesotho women prosper from pigs and poultry

With the motto 'We will survive', twenty women farmers from Lesotho have joined forces to buy feed in bulk at discount prices and access high-paying markets for their poultry and pork products.

Date published: November 2012

Keeping hope alive in peri-urban Zimbabwe

Keeping hope alive in peri-urban Zimbabwe

Despite problems with poor management, leadership crises and variable commitment by members, a cooperative in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo has given some peri-urban farmers a much needed economic boost.

Date published: November 2012

 

 

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