FAO pays tribute to agriculture cooperatives for fighting hunger

The Government of Ghana ,Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), food security sector partners, and  Ghanaian farmers are marking World Food Day today, October 16, 2012 at Bewadzi in the Gomoa West District of the Central Region.

This year’s celebration is being held under the theme “Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world”, to highlight the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organisations help to provide food security, generate employment, and reduce poverty.

In his message for the observance of this year’s event, Dr. José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, pays special tribute to cooperatives for working against hunger and overcoming market and policy constraints, by providing their members access to a range of assets and services.

Remarking, Mr. Musa Saihou Mbenga, FAO-Ghana Country Representative, said: the structure of the Ghanaian agricultural system is changing rapidly. Independent producers need to vertically coordinate their production through the agricultural system to maximise returns.”

He added that cooperatives comprise an important and growing part of the changing agricultural industry and that due to the singularity of member owned-member managed style of operation, cooperatives have the ability to solve various market problems facing the agricultural producers.

The marking of World Food Day began, after the FAO’s 20th session in Rome, Italy, in November 1979 called for the observance of World Food Day on October 16, 1981, and on the same date each year.

The UN General Assembly ratified this decision on December 5, 1980, and urged governments and international, national and local organizations to contribute to observing World Food Day, which has been held each year since 1981.

To mark the day, many events are organised globally on and around October 16, while a wide-ranging programme is organised at the FAO’s headquarters in Rome, Italy.

The programme is aimed at leaders of political and non-political organisations at all levels and at increasing press attention on topical issues around food supply. Other UN organisations and universities around the world organise symposia, conferences, workshops and presentations of particular issues around food production, distribution and security.

In addition, special initiatives, such as the “International Year of Rice” in 2004 and the “International Year of the Potato” in 2008 were launched.

Also across the globe, many different events are organised to raise awareness of problems in food supply and distribution and to raise money to support projects to aid in the cultivation of food plants and the distribution of food.

An example of this is TeleFood, which funds micro projects to help small-scale farmers at the grassroots level. The projects aim to help farmers be more productive and improve both local communities’ access to food and farmers’ cash income. Fundraising events include sponsored sports events, charity auctions, concerts, and marches.

Meanwhile, according to the 2012 Global Hunger Index released just days prior to World Food Day, two sub-Saharan African countries, Burundi, Eritrea and  Haiti have extremely alarming levels of hunger.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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