Co-operative enterprises
build a better world

A stronger food system

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
 
By 2050, the population of the Earth will reach 9 billion. In order to feed all people, agricultural production will have to increase by at least 60 per cent.
 
Agriculture co-operatives can be part of the solution. The agriculture sector is where the co-operative business model is most widely utilised. Co-operatives together account for an estimated 32 per cent of the global market share in this sector.
 
Co-operatives contribute to food security by helping small agricultural producers overcome their challenges, which can include remoteness, lack of information about market food prices, limited access to high-quality inputs, access to financial capital and lack of transport and other infrastructure.
 
Agricultural co-operatives help farmers solve these problems by offering their members a variety of services: group purchasing and marketing, knowledge and information, capacity building and training to innovate and adapt to changing markets. Importantly, co-operatives facilitate farmers’ participation in decision-making processes, provide a platform for small producers to voice their concerns and interests and increase their negotiating power to influence policy making processes.
 
The International Co-operative Alliance works in close partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in order to enhance the potential contribution of co-operatives towards achieving food security in a sustainable way.

Responsible governance of tenure

The FAO's Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT). in the Context of National Food Security promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment.

They were officially endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security on 11 May 2012. Since then implementation has been encouraged by G20, Rio+ 20, United Nations General Assembly and Francophone Assembly of Parliamentarians.

In empowering producers to protect their assets, they help achieve sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development, environmental protection and sustainable social and economic development, as well as help eradicate poverty and hunger. The VGGT are particularly important for small-scale farmers, vulnerable populations and marginalised groups. The success of the VGGT will depend largely on farmers’ awareness of their land rights.

The Alliance is committed to helping educate co-operative stakeholders about the VGGT and their importance for protecting co-operative producers. To raise awareness about the VGGT among co-operatives, the Alliance co-organised a workshop in Antalya, Turkey in November 2015. Read the full workshop report.