UN's food chief to headline Co-operatives United

24 Jul 2012

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The Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, will join thousands of co-operators at Co-operatives United.

Delegates from around the world will travel to Manchester for the ICA's culmination event of the International Year during a week of activities from October 28-November 2, which includes the General Assembly, ICA Board meetings and a special international dinner.

Mr Graziano da Silva will be a keynote speaker at the ICA's opening ceremony on October 31 at Manchester Central, UK. Throughout the International Year he has been a strong advocate of co-operatives; and he recently outlined his vision for food and agricultural co-operatives: “Co-operatives and producer organisations have a key role to play in bringing about a future without hunger. Standing alone, a smallholder has fewer opportunities. 

"When farmers get together, they have better condition to negotiate of price and better access to assets and services such as information, communication, input and output markets, natural resources, from local to international levels."

The FAO has continued to show its support for co-operatives. In June the Director General appointed two Special Ambassadors for co-operatives with the mandate to promote the role of co-operatives in the fight against hunger; and last month he opened a liaison office for co-operatives and producer organisations at the organisation's Rome headquarters, which also included the offer of meeting space for the ICA.

This year's World Food Day on October 16 has also adopted the theme "Agricultural co-operatives — key to feeding the world", which will highlight the role of co-operatives contributing to the eradication of hunger and in improving food security.

Mr Graziano da Silva has made strong strides in food security world. As Brazil's Minister for Food Security and Fight Against Hunger he implemented the "Zero Hunger" ("Fome Zero") programme, which helped lift 24 million people out of poverty.  

And this year with the FAO, he is working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to identify new ways to support co-operatives. At the launch of the International Year of Co-operatives, Mr Graziano da Silva said: “FAO needs strong co-operatives and producer organizations as key partners in the effort to eliminate hunger for some 925 million people.”

ICA is working with co-hosts the Co-operative Group and Co-operatives UK, to attract 10,000 visitors to Manchester for the event, which will also be broadcast through the Global News Hub to allow co-operators worldwide to take part.

• Group bookings are now live for Co-operatives United. To book your place, visit: www.manchester2012.coop/book-now

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