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FAO and ICA sign new partnership in lead up to the UN Decade of Family Farming

Goal is to strengthen support for agricultural cooperatives, promote inclusive growth and responsible investment in agriculture, and the SDGs

14 May 2018, Rome - The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) and FAO renewed their partnership today, paving the way for more joint efforts to enable smallholder and small-scale family farmers in the developing world to benefit from a unique and successful business model that combines economic and social goals for inclusive development.

Through its membership, ICA represents 1.2 billion people from any of the 2.6 million cooperatives worldwide.

The two organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will give new impetus to their collaboration, formally begun in 2013, and provide opportunities to enhance and deepen their strategic partnership.

Under the framework of the MoU, FAO and ICA will: generate and promote knowledge and good practice examples of how cooperatives in the food and agriculture sectors can be sustainable and inclusive enterprises; support advancement of cooperatives as a business model that is well-performing, inclusive of small-scale producers and family farmers and responsive to members' needs; ensure participation of cooperatives and their members in regional and global policy consultation processes and support the establishment of an enabling environment for cooperatives to develop and thrive.

The important contributions of agricultural cooperatives to poverty reduction and the achievement of food security are gaining increasing recognition throughout the world.

Cooperatives are included as implementing partners in the SDGs and play a critical role in strengthening smallholders' capacities to make responsible investment in agriculture. Further, the UN Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028) Resolution recalls the need to focus on agricultural cooperatives and farmers' networks in efforts to enhance food security and nutrition.

As autonomous businesses that are jointly-owned and democratically controlled by their members, cooperatives are a tested model that can sustainably support small-scale producers and family farmers to achieve economies of scale, improve their access to markets, credit, information and other resources and enhance their wellbeing.

About the partners

FAO is the UN's point agency on efforts to eradicate hunger and make agriculture and food systems more sustainable. Its activities comprise main areas of action: Putting information within reach and supporting the transition to sustainable agriculture; strengthening political will and sharing policy expertise; bolstering public-private collaboration to improve smallholder agriculture; bringing knowledge to the field; supporting countries in preventing and mitigating risks to food security.

ICA is a non-profit international association established in 1895 to advance the co-operative model. ICA is the apex organization for cooperatives worldwide, representing 308 cooperative federations and organizations across 107 countries (figures of April 2018). The members of ICA are national level cooperative federations, individual cooperative organisations and government offices concerned with cooperatives.

ICA works with global and regional governments and organizations to create the legislative environments that allow co-operatives to form and grow.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
ICA President Ariel Guarco (left) and Dan Gustafson, FAO Deputy Director-General Programmes.

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