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Cooperatives and associativity are vital to strengthen the contributions of family agriculture to the supply of food and sustainable feeding systems in the Americas

23 de junio de 2020

Promoting cooperativism and associativity will be fundamental aspects in the post-covid-19 scenario to enhance the role of family agriculture as a food supplier in the Americas.

These elements, accompanied by differentiated public policies, digitization and connectivity for training, technical assistance and access to health information, will strengthen the short circuits in which family agriculture is key to food supply, according to the president of Cooperatives of the Americas, Graciela Fernández, and the former Minister of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Álvaro Ramos.

The specialists participated in a webinar organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), part of a cycle in which this agency specializing in hemispheric agriculture and rurality analyzes post-pandemic scenarios.

“The great challenges to come will be differentiated public policies, because the needs are different according to the regions and the countries, as well as technical assistance, rural extension, financing and access of the producer to sanitary and phytosanitary information, in addition to protocols and supplies to guarantee safety. from food to the consumer, ”Ramos said.

They will be key, added the former minister, connectivity and digitization; also innovate in technologies and communication platforms for family farming and use cooperatives for their effectiveness to apply public policy instruments.

In turn, Graciela Fernández explained that cooperativism has useful instruments for development and the leading role that family farming has in the region and in marketing schemes.

“The inter-cooperation between savings and credit cooperatives that provide financing to their similar agrarian companies, as well as to small farmers to advance and maintain themselves in this complex situation, and those of consumption that support agrarian companies so that they can place their product, are part of the many contributions that this sector can provide, ”said the president of Cooperatives of the Americas.

Challenges and contribution of family farming

Fernández and Ramos explained that, during the pandemic, at the agri-food level the crisis was caused more by demand for products than by supply, due to changes in consumer habits. These may be caused by lack or decrease of income and by social isolation, which modified the forms of supply.

"Family farming in the region is affected because the supply chain is interrupted, because the companies that process, condition and transport the products have difficulties, payments are cut, there are no credits or they are substantially reduced and begin to have difficulties to develop their production process, "said Ramos.

According to Fernández, in Latin America and the Caribbean almost 15% of exports of agri-food products to the world are in the hands of family farming, and this is the destination of 6% of imports. "With the pandemic, there are obviously serious damages," he explained.

He added that, regarding export restrictions, in certain areas they have reached close to 5% due to social isolation measures and the impact on the transport of supplies due to the closure of borders in the region. This translates into direct effects on short chains and perishables, and impacts family farmers and consumers.

Fernández and Ramos stressed that, despite the current difficulties, family farming continues to produce food and, depending on the country, its contribution ranges from 60% to 70% of the products in the basic food baskets.

They warned that world trade emerging from the health crisis will be more protectionist and the trend will be to apply more rigorously sanitary standards, which will force family producers and exporting countries to apply higher safety and quality standards to maintain access. to the markets.

The last seminar of this cycle organized by IICA will be next Thursday at 4 p.m. m. (Costa Rica time), with the focus on post covid-19 from the perspective of the Caribbean countries.

It will be broadcast from the Institute’s Virtual Conference Room and its official accounts on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The presentations of the seminars already held are available for comments and discussion on the IICA blog "Sowing the agriculture of the future today"

Next seminar:

The post Covid-19 from the perspective of the Caribbean countries | Thursday, May 28

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