The International Co-operative Agricultural Organization (ICAO) is excited to report that 2015 was one of our most successful years to date. This success has given our members the momentum they need to launch into 2016 with full force, and we have great hope for what the year may have in store.
2015 was all about climate change and preparing for the UN COP21 conference during which the international future of climate change policy was determined. While climate change is a problem that affects all sectoral organisations, the agricultural sector is particularly burdened with challenges such as food security and climate smart farming. Therefore, 2016 will present the opportunity to implement real programmes and changes to build a climate smart future.
Among these opportunities is that of the Food and Agriculture Organization International Year of Pulses. ICAO and its member co-operatives plan to promote the growing of pulses, which will factor importantly in the future of farming. Pulses are a great source of protein and are easily cultivated, even in an urban environment. For these reasons, the growing of pulses could help reduce meat consumption, which would have a profound impact on the environment. Therefore, ICAO plans to promote the growing of pulses heavily throughout 2016.
Regionally, ICAO members have been busy building their own initiatives to support the agricultural co-operative movement. In Africa, Kenya and Uganda co-operatives have recently published a new book detailing technologies to enhance the coffee, banana, and sorghum value chains. In the Americas, Canada prepares to host the International Summit of Cooperatives at the end of 2016, and ICAO seeks to expand its membership in Central and South America. In Asia, agricultural co-operatives continue to increase in number. The co-operative model presents an attractive alternative to capitalist models, particularly in developing Asian countries and in countries adversely affected by climate change and unpredictable weather patterns. In Europe, the agricultural co-operative model is re-emerging as an important means of fighting inequality in a changing economic environment.
This New Year is the perfect opportunity for ICAO to step forward as an influential sector with the power to positively improve the environment and farming practices around the world. We invite participation from all regions and all sectors as we work together to build a better future in the spirit of co-operation.