How Can We Reduce Rural Poverty?
New challenges and new uncertainties make it urgent to act in order to take advantage of new opportunities as well as to put a halt to the trends which condemn contemporary rural populations to abject poverty. Opportunities originate in a dynamic market-driven “new agriculture” led by high value activities.They originate in major institutional and technological innovations and in new roles for the state, for private actors, and for people centered enterprises in using agriculture and non-agricultural micro and small enterprises (SME) more effectively for development.The challenge is to include smallholders in agricultural growth and to benefit the rural poor through agricultural and rural non-farm employment.
Cooperatives and Rural Development
The United Nations through its specialized agencies, specifically FAO and ILO, often recommends the cooperative enterprise as the agent most suitable to promote rural development in all its dimensions: opportunity, empowerment and security.
The World Cooperative Movement organized under its umbrella institution – International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) – partners with international development agencies such as MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) via AJEEC-NISPED to promote the cooperative business model.Through their involvement in all sectors of the economy, cooperatives represent a means for people to identify and exploit opportunities. For instance, cooperatives enable farmers to achieve and enjoy economies of scale in purchasing inputs and marketing produce.
Furthermore, cooperatives are important forms of social capital that empower community self-help action that may take off into a process of sustainable human development. Cooperative democratic organization encourages active membership participation thus helping people help themselves.
Cooperatives allow people to convert individual risks into collective risks thus reducing vulnerability both on an individual and household level.
People throughout the world have organized cooperatives in order to meet their needs in a wide variety of endeavors: agricultural co-ops, consumer co-ops, cooperatives providing health and education services, as well as cooperatives created to promote new business initiatives and create decent employment opportunities.
(Excerpt from Cooperating Out of Poverty 2012 program.)