Cooperatives can offer solutions to hunger and poverty, President of Costa Rica says

FAO nominates Special Ambassadors for cooperatives

29 May 2012, Rome - The cooperative model offers unique solutions to "free people from hunger and poverty in a globalized world in which crises, including climate change, touch everyone", President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla said today in a speech at FAO.

Using the example of her country, the President stressed that cooperatives can make a major contribution to sustainable development and the competitiveness of small agricultural producers.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva held up Costa Rica as a model of the economic, social and environmental role cooperatives can play. He cited the production by Costa Rican cooperatives of carbon neutral coffee as an example.

Chinchilla and Graziano da Silva took part in a side event on cooperatives held during the Committee on Commodity Problems meeting at FAO. The event, in the framework of UN International Year of Cooperatives, was also attended by ministers and vice ministers of agriculture of Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kenya and Sri Lanka.

Special Ambassadors

Graziano da Silva appointed Elisabeth Atangana and Roberto Rodrígues as Special Ambassadors for Cooperatives, with the mandate to promote the role of cooperatives in the fight against hunger. Atangana, of Cameroon, is president of the Panafrican Farmer Forum and the Sub-Regional Platform of Peasant Organizations of Central Africa. Rodrígues, of Brazil, is president of the  Superior Council for Agroindustry of the São Paulo Federation of Industries, former Minister of Agriculture and Supply of Brasil and former president of the International Cooperative Alliance.

Atangana and Rodrigues, who are well known cooperative and farmer associations leaders, were nominated with the support of the main cooperative and agriculture producers organizations in the world, such as the International Alliance of Cooperatives, the World Farmers Organization, the Organization of Peasant Women and The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, amongst others.

Atangana committed herself to contribute to the mobilization of all stakeholders, including private and public sector as well as civil society, to combine their efforts to "build a world in which food security and food sovereignty are assured" along with a durable and sustainable development.

Graziano da Silva underlined that Atangana represents the important role of women farmers for African agriculture

Rodrigues launched a challenge when accepting his nomination: "Let's work together to achieve the Nobel Peace Prize for the international cooperatives movement".

He stressed that cooperatives are the best allies of democratic governments to achieve peace and "the biggest social movement in the world", with four billion people involved directly or indirectly. "There isn't a bigger movement for peace and democracy."
The two new FAO Special Ambassadors will work for the strengthening of cooperatives and their role in promoting economic, social and environmental development and the work of the small-scale farmers of the world.

"These nominations are a recognition of the importance of cooperatives in promoting food security and the commitment of FAO in widening its cooperation and promoting a constant dialogue with this movement," said the FAO Director-General.

Graziano da Silva added that FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), are working together to identify new ways to support cooperatives.

Photo: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva and the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.