On “World Food Day” UN highlights agricultural cooperatives as vital weapon against poverty and hunger

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
UN on Monday marks "World Food Day" 
Rome, Italy: Amid economic crises, climatic shocks, and high and volatile food prices in a world of plenty where nearly 870 million people still go hungry, the United Nations on Tuesday marked World Food Day by highlighting agricultural cooperatives as vital weapon in the war on poverty and hunger.

At the commemorative event at FAO's headquarters in Rome, FAO's Director General José Graziano da Silva while noting that in Africa and Near East the number of undernourished people is still growing, he said that "we cannot allow that in a world of plenty, we already produce enough food for every human being".
The United Nations Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition, David Nabarro, delivering a message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that

"The theme of this year's WFD drew inspiration from the observance of the International Year of Cooperatives 2012.

Nabarro said agricultural cooperatives played a vital role in improving food and nutrition security. He said that "owned by their members, they can generate employment, alleviate poverty and empowerment of poor and marginalized groups in rural areas, especially women, to drive their own destiny".

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) while noting that some of our largest financial institutions had their roots in farmers' cooperatives, said that "today cooperatives produced about 50 percent of global agricultural output."

Speaking at the same ceremony, the UN World Food Programme's (WFP) Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, underscored the need for social safety nets for those who could barely feed themselves. Cousin said that "when we collaborate for the people we are here to serve, we each perform our mandates better", and added that, "and we grow autonomy and resilience in rural communities, improving livelihoods, empowering the poor to take control of their future."

At a press conference later on food price volatility Graziano said that everybody at the opening meeting agreed that lack of coordination was a problem. While countries will face problems like drought, floods and other climate events in the future, they will not necessarily cause a food crisis, he said. Graziano said that "if we could avoid every country to take unilateral measures, like putting bans on others – measures that we have seen in the past – we can calm down markets and avoid crisis".
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