Saturday, 6 October 2012

Agricultural cooperatives - World Food Day theme

"Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world" is the 2012 slogan for the upcoming World Food Day of next 16th October. The World Food Day aims at raising awareness and understanding of approaches to ending hunger. the theme for this observance is usually announced each spring by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


Experiences of agricultural cooperatives and the results of various studies have identified several factors which are responsible for the success of agricultural cooperatives (information excerpt from the paper "Development of Agricultural Cooperatives-Relevance of Japanese Experiences to Developing Countries"). Some of them are:

 - Cooperatives are member-driven, member-controlled and member-responsive organisations;

 - Cooperatives are efficiently managed by experienced, trained and professionally qualified staff under the supervision and control of democratically-elected boards of directors;

 - Principles of “accountability” and “answerability”, “role model”, ethical behaviour and good governance are employed; - Adherence to the “joint-use” concept e.g., joint marketing, joint purchasing, joint use of capital, joint use of facilities;

 - Elected officials [board members including the presidents and auditors] are compensated. [It is assumed that honorary elected officials tend to be more expensive to the organisations. Besides, the era of honorary elected positions have gone, as not many people have neither the time nor the inclination to serve in such capacities];

 - Cooperatives have integrated their operations with the needs of their memberhouseholds; 

- Well-integrated vertical structures of cooperatives exist and these provide support in order to enable the base level cooperatives to effectively and efficiently service their individual members; the federal cooperatives provide advisory services,technical know-how and back-up support services;

 - Cooperatives undertake comprehensive programmes for member education in order to facilitate the process of members’ participation, members’ involvement and empowerment; and for training of staff and members of boards of directors;

 - Cooperatives undertake value-added operations: choose, assess and employ appropriate but advanced technologies; and forge forward integration in order to gain competitive advantage in the market place;

 - Cooperatives establish viable and strong linkages with external research and development/ extension agencies in the field of agriculture and technology;

 - Cooperatives strive to become self-reliant, accumulate capital and develop other resources in order to remain fee from all external controls and directions; and - Cooperatives are open, ethical, caring, and socially-aware institutions. They display social concern in their business operations and in their relations with customers, employees and members, and the community at large.