Did you know there are around 500 million small farms in developing countries? Together these farms feed and support almost a third of people in the world! With the world predicted to have two billion more mouths to feed by 2050, smallholders could help sustainably feed our growing population. This is hugely important for food security in both developing and developed countries, including the UK. However, the majority of smallholder farmers still lack the right tools, training and investment and consequently struggle to produce much beyond subsistence levels.
This is why The Co-operative has launched a new campaign with Oxfam calling for increased international investment to help smallholder farmers and co-operatives feed the world sustainably. Over the next two years, we will be asking The Co-operative’s members and Oxfam’s supporters to take action by calling on the world’s leading economies to substantially increase support for smallholder farmers and co-operatives.
We believe that the encouragement and support of smallholder farmers in developing countries – many of whom are women – offers the best route to sustainably feed the growing global population and alleviate poverty for the farmers and their communities. Co-operatives have an important role to play in this, as they enable members to pool resources, realise economies of scale and secure fairer prices. In fact, the majority of the million-plus farmers who are part of the Fairtrade movement are involved through co-operatives.
Our work with small-scale tea farmers in Kenya demonstrates the benefits of co-operative membership for smallholder farmers, who traditionally face numerous challenges such as highly unstable global tea prices and a lack of bargaining power to negotiate decent terms of trade.
The Co-operative is working with 11,000 small-scale tea farmers in Kericho, Kenya – offering them hope and incentives through ‘Kibagenge’, an ambitious three-year ‘co-operative-to-co-operative’ trade development project. The farmers have been supported to organise into five co-operatives and pursue Fairtrade certification to enable them to supply into The Co-operative’s own-brand Fairtrade 99 Tea. By organising into producer co-operatives, the farmers benefit from a stronger negotiating position and can collectively own and share the profits from the business that they build. They are also being supported to diversify into other produce to reduce their reliance on tea and help to improve local food security.
This is the largest project of its type ever created! It has secured match-funding from the UK Government and is being delivered in partnership with tea supplier Finlays, the charity Africa Now! and the Co-operative College in the UK and Kenya. “Since I joined the co-operative we have seen a lot of revolution and we are getting a fairer deal” Betty Chesang (member of Chepchep tea co-operative).
Over the next two years, we will be working with our members and Oxfam supporters to call on the UK Government to champion the importance of increasing global food production in a sustainable and equitable way, and recognise the crucial role that smallholder farmers and co-operatives can play. We will ask that the UK promotes increased investment in sustainable smallholder agriculture in order to guarantee livelihoods for the poorest farmers, especially women.
From 20-22 June 2012, Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – is taking place. We believe that this could be the first major opportunity to get smallholder farmers and co-operatives firmly on the international agenda. We are calling on the UK Government to champion:
Join us in asking our Government to champion smallholder farmers and co-operatives at Rio+20.
To find out more about our Grow Co-operatives campaign, visit our website.
earn membership points everytime you shop
Copyright © Co-operative Group Limited. All rights reserved.