Agricultural Cooperatives

Agricultural cooperatives enable producers to realize economic benefits that they could not otherwise achieve alone. Groups of agricultural producers improve their bargaining power in the marketplace, reduce costs by pooling capital and resources through cooperative enterprises, and make expensive services, such as marketing, that are unavailable to individuals accessible. Through cooperatives, farmers can achieve economies of scale, by reducing the unit costs of inputs and services, enabling farmers to focus on producing goods rather than finding buyers and suppliers. Cooperatives also enable farmers to improve product and service quality and reduce risks. Agricultural cooperatives can allow farmers to address common problems, develop new market opportunities or expand existing markets. Agricultural cooperatives empower farmers and improve their position in the marketplace.

The objective of a possible committee (to be set-up in WFO) in charge of cooperative affairs could have the following objectives:

  • Increase the competitiveness of cooperatives around the world in the current international context; especially by strengthening their position in the agri-food chain.
  • Lobby decision-makers for a pro-cooperative policy environment at national and international levels: governments should ensure a level-playing-field for cooperatives, regarding trade policies, financial policies and legislation in all affected areas.
  • Strengthen the competitive position of cooperatives in the respective markets, where they are operating: education and training for members, staff and leaders of cooperatives; cooperative  governance, stability of membership, and countervailing power of coops.
  • Strengthen the link between agricultural cooperatives, society and consumers.

Possible web-links:

copac - Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives
ICA - International Cooperative Alliance
ICAO - International Cooperative Agricultural Organisation
ILO Cooperative Branch
FAO Sustainable Development Department