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The African Development Bank joins its development partners and member countries today in celebrating World Food Day 2012.
The official World Food Day theme, announced each spring by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), gives focus to World Food Day observances and raises awareness and understanding of approaches to ending hunger.
“Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world” is the formal wording of the 2012 theme. It has been chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger.
Interest in cooperatives and rural organizations is also reflected in the decision of the UN General Assembly to designate 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives.
Globally, nearly 870 million people (one in eight) are suffering from hunger and chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012, with 98 per cent of this number living in developing countries and 27 per cent to be found in Africa.
This year’s celebration comes at a critical juncture when a part of the continent is recovering from the devastation wrought by the drought in the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel braces for severe food shortages in the coming months.
It is clear that the role of cooperatives and community organizations are critical in the fight for food security in Africa. Cooperatives satisfy their members’ needs while pursuing profit and sustainability.
They are often a key institution in rural life and for the marketing of farmer inputs and produce.
Cooperatives are also crucial for fostering democracy and good governance at the local level. With increasing threats to the use of Africa’s natural resource base and the growing foreign direct investment in land in the continent, cooperatives can play a significant role in defending farmer interest in the long term by fostering sustainable agricultural practices that ensure these natural resource assets are safe for future generations.
The African Development Bank, through its agriculture, governance and private sector departments, is well placed to support the renaissance of the cooperative movement towards truly profit seeking entities working for agricultural transformation in Africa.
The Bank undertakes to channel, where feasible, the use of local development funds in projects and programs through existing and credible agricultural cooperatives on the continent.