10 Reasons to Celebrate CooperativesJuly 7, 2012
Why celebrate International Day of the Cooperatives? Because cooperatives can help to shape a better world by promoting sustainable development, strengthening communities and empowering members…
- Cooperatives can help to generate higher incomes and more efficient production. By coming together in an organization, smallholder farmers can aggregate their production and achieve a better price for their product.
- Cooperatives have their members’ best interest in mind. Where traders might aim to keep farmers ignorant of market prices so that they can pay the minimum, cooperatives work to keep their members informed and pay the most that the market allows. A cooperative is often a better alternative to a local trader because it is a service organization managed by (and for) farmers.
- An effective cooperative offers a range of services to its members — not just buying and selling goods, but also providing credit at reasonable interest rates and making advance payments.
- Cooperatives can help to facilitate training and technical assistance. An organization — like the Rainforest Alliance — providing technical assistance cannot necessarily visit hundreds of farmers in one group individually, so cooperatives provide an organizing unit to help farmers improve their skills and practices.
- Cooperatives can strengthen communities. “In my village certain people were not on speaking terms for a long time,” says Désire Kouassi, president of the Rainforest Alliance Certified Cooperative Agricole La Paix d’Issia (COPAPAIX) in Côte d’Ivoire. “But since we started working together and learning together and realizing that we can benefit from the experience of others, people have started talking together again and fraternity and solidarity have been re-established.”
- Cooperatives can play a key role in ensuring food security and poverty reduction.
- Cooperatives can provide a feeling of belonging. “Farmers can feel a part of something and there is clearer communication between farmers bringing them much closer together,” explains Edmond Konan, head of the Global Business Consulting Company in Côte d’Ivoire.
- Cooperatives support marginalized groups, offering employment opportunities for women, the elderly, the disabled and others facing discrimination.
- They can act as powerful engines for local growth because they are so attuned to local needs.
- They feature prominently on the list of smallholder groups (especially cocoa and coffee farmers) that have achieved Rainforest Alliance certification.