|FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva|
Graziano da Silva noted that "producer organizations and rural, food and agricultural cooperatives give organizational, economic, and social clout to smallholder farmers, pastoralists and those who rely on fishing and forestry for their livelihoods."
Cooperatives are found in urban and rural economies. According to the International Cooperative Alliance, there are over 800 million cooperatives members around the world and cooperatives can either be small or large in size. They allow for the critical pooling of resources, which includes the power to negotiate better terms for agricultural inputs. In 2008, the largest 300 cooperatives in the world had an aggregate turnover of US$1.1 trillion.
According to Adalberto Martins, one of the leaders of the Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST) of Brazil and member of a small-scale farming cooperative, "cooperatives are paramount to creating a new social environment and helping to organize production. Without their contribution it would be very difficult to achieve food security on a sustainable level."
Cooperatives tie into regional and international farmer and peasant organizations and movements, fisherfolk, youth, pastoralists and indigenous peoples' groups.
The FAO is planning to open liaison office spaces for cooperatives, the private sector and civil society at the organization's headquarters.
For more see: "Cooperatives central to hunger fight," FAO Press Release, 24 Jan. 2012.