Archive for August, 2012

August 25, 2012

The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) welcomes the United Nations decision to declare 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. This year highlights a renewed interest in the value of farmers organisations, cooperatives), and other rural organisations which has given farmers a voice in issues that affect their lives ensuring their rightful share in the economic and other benefits while reducing potential risks to their way of life.

Agriculture is a vital source of livelihood t represents 40% of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP); it involves 5 billion hectares of land (1.5 agricultural based and 3.4 breeders and pasture); it engages a labor market of 1.3 billion people, which amounts to about 1/5th of the world population. The 3,4 billion people living in rural areas constitute approximately 49% of the world population Agriculture has great resonance in the rural areas while its impact goes far beyond. 

Notwithstanding its crucial role in feeding the world’s population, in employment, GDP and climate change solutions, the agricultural sector lacks the concerted action and commitment of policy makers to take measures and provide support to protect the sector from the adverse impact of external events and forces that it is vulnerable to. 

In the recent past, world farmers have faced very difficult times due to a variety of reasons, such as price volatilities  in food commodities, financial speculation in agro-food markets and lack of financing and investments in many regions of the world. Farmers’ incomes are the lowest in the world, being 50% below the average salary.

The World Farmers’ Organisation believes that rural organizations enable farmers to realize economic benefits that they could not otherwise achieve on their own, such as improve their bargaining power in the marketplace, reduce costs and benefit from collective marketing. Moreover, in developing countries, farmers organizations and cooperatives play an important role in providing farmers, in particular smallholder farmers, a variety of services such as training in natural resource management as well as better access to information, technologies, innovations etc. In this context the cooperative system represents a fundamental tool for eradicating hunger and reducing poverty, being a catalyst for socially-inclusive development (jobs and income generation).They also represent a powerful means for supporting marginalized groups, such as youth and women.

To better achieve their mission and to assure complete independence, rural organizations should be created and managed by farmers themselves based on their own needs.   However, given their positive role in a national economic and social context, national administrations should enact policies to encourage the creation of independent farmers´ organizations and cooperatives.  The policies should be framed so as to target the farmers and the food sector as opposed to the organizations, and address the need to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, to the regulation of relationships in the food supply chain, to facilitating access to information and training and to the adoption of international standards for enhancing international trade. 

In the International Year of Cooperatives, the Word Farmers’ Organisation intends to express its strongest support to farmers in the process of establishing rural organizations, such as producers organisation and cooperatives, confident that that process would enable them to improve their position within the food supply chain and increase their competitive position in the markets. In this regard, the WFO with the support of its members, is mandated to engage itself in the following areas at the International level:


–          Raise awareness of national governments on the importance of rural organisations for development. 

–          Promote and develop legal frameworks for facilitating and encouraging the formation of rural organisations as independent bodies.

–          Recognizing that rural organisations are beneficial to society, implement specific policies in support thereof (e.g. tax and credit incentives for farmers).

–          Support investment aimed at guaranteeing sustainable production, stable local and national markets and, in this context, regulate financial and commodity markets.

–          Facilitate the creation of rural organisations’ networks through which famers can overcome daily constrains such as market barriers, lack of access to natural resources and being excluded from  the decision making process.

–          Ensure the implementation of a system that allows the participation of farmers’ representatives in the making of policies affecting their lives.

–          Create forums and convene debates between representatives of government, private sector, civil society and rural organisations.

–          Promote the awareness of farmers on entrepreneurship, innovation, climate services, management etc., through the organisation of conferences, workshops, seminars and the creation of tailor made educational materials (guides, booklets, pamphlets, distance learning) (Prepared by the International Secretariat of WFO)

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