Hazen to Obama: Cooperatives offer sustainable solutions to food security

OCDC members lead the way to increased food production, greater national security

Paul Hazen, executive director of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, praised President Obama for launching a major new partnership with the Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to reduce hunger and lift tens of millions of people from poverty. 

President Obama

“Food security is an aspect of sustainable development that leads to greater national security,” Hazen said. “Cooperatives are values-based businesses that offer a sustainable solution to many of the world’s most pressing needs, from food security to gender equality. We are pleased that President Obama has recognized the contribution cooperatives can make to addressing social and economic issues. OCDC and its members are ready to continue partnering with the U.S. government to alleviate poverty and achieve food security in Africa.”

In his remarks, President Obama called on the private sector, including cooperatives, to make concrete and continuing commitments to agriculture in Africa: “Today, I can announce that 45 companies — from major international corporations to African companies and cooperatives — have pledged to invest more than $3 billion to kick off this effort.”

Cooperatives have been leaders in food security for decades. According to the Global Forum on Local Development, investments that support the establishment and operation of farmer and producer cooperatives have demonstrated success in improving food security and can help address the imbalance between smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain.

According to José Graziano da Silva, director general of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, “FAO needs strong cooperatives and producer organizations as key partners in the effort to eliminate hunger.”

 “Members of OCDC are engaged now in multi-year food security projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe,” said Hazen.  “In these projects, OCDC members are committed to developing cooperatives in order to secure more sustainable solutions.”

For example, the Washington, D.C.-based National Cooperative Business Association is operating one of the original USAID-funded Feed the Future Initiative programs in Senegal through its CLUSA International arm. To combat food insecurity in the country, CLUSA has embarked on a five-year, $40 million program to accelerate participation of the very poor in rural economic growth, catalyze sustainable development with Senegal’s agriculture sector and improve the key dimensions of food security – access, availability, utilization and stability.

USAID/Yaajeende employs an innovative, country-led and integrated approach to tackle the underlying issues that hold back the very poor from becoming integral and active members of the rural, agricultural marketplace. Cooperative development is a key to a sustainable solution for all aspects of the program.