Even with the large number of citizens connected to mobile phones, internet and tuned into radio stations in Uganda today, the need for cooperatives still exist. Moreover, we agree with Mr. Morrison that if cooperatives do not change, what currently exist of them may soon disappear. Therefore, what can be done? As our previous post stated, in essence cooperatives should be moving with technological advances – in this case, the great number of mobile phones, internet access and radio stations – in order to remain sustainable. A 1987 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report reflected the views of a panel of farmer-owned cooperative leaders in that country on a number of key issues and concluded that “cooperatives must continually adapt to the changing marketplace and needs of farmers and that nothing inherent in the cooperative form of business prevents that type of evolution”.
According to UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, cooperatives have the virtue of bringing about stability in its social responsibility as well as its economic viability. She recognizes that cooperatives play a great role not only to its members but also to the wider society by helping to reduce poverty, creating jobs, promoting food security and inclusive finance. She also emphasizes on three very important values of a cooperative: sustainability, solidarity and inclusiveness. Cooperatives consolidate domestic economies while crafting a sustainable future through their use of local labour and capital and the high value they place on protecting the environment. While cooperatives serve the needs of its members, the well-being of the society as a whole is just as crucial. In addition, given that people form the foundation of any cooperative, cooperatives provide the opportunity for advancing its member and the broader community in terms of fostering their skills and abilities in order that they become more actively and passionately involved in enhancing their lives.
Therefore, one should not see the introduction of new technologies as the obsolescence of cooperatives but rather as a means of garnering improvements within cooperatives. In this way, cooperatives will move time and with changes in the market place. At a time when the world is faced with many issues of financial crises, food shortages, climate change and environmental degradation, cooperatives are indeed relevant and should be taken more seriously. We leave you with a statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"Through their distinctive focus on values, cooperatives have proven themselves a resilient and viable business model that can prosper even during difficult times. This success has helped prevent many families and communities from sliding into poverty."
The FSN Forum is supported by the project Coherent food security responses: incorporating right to food into global and regional food security initiatives.