PAKISAMA organized the “National Forum on Agri-Cooperatives” on November 27, 2015 to contribute to addressing the gap of a centralized or coordinating institution by assessing whether the participants are willing to set up or join a national federation of agri-cooperatives in the country. One hundred (100) participants (40% women) from PAKISAMA member agri-coops and partner farmers’ organizations/institutions – e.g., Agri-Cord Philippine Synergy-Assisted Cooperatives, FSSI and PEF partner Agri Coops, PhilDHRRA, NatCCO, TFM and KM assisted Coops – attended the forum.
The Chairperson of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Usec Orlan Ravanera, gave the Keynote Address on the theme: “Agri-Coops to Fight Poverty, Powerlessness, Climate Change.” He encouraged to forum to provide CDA a roadmap towards establishing a national federation of agri-coops for appropriate support from the CDA.
Resource persons from Brussels-based Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires (CSA), Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) provided the participants with key inputs on agri-cooperatives formation and strengthening. Mr Marek Poznanski of CSA presented the key findings of an EU study on “Support for Farmers’ Cooperatives” commissioned by the European Union on: (i) how EU agri-coops add value; (ii) power of EU agri-coops in the food chain; (iii) internal governance of EU agri-coops; and (iv) support measures for EU agri-coops. Ms Vicky Serrato of AFA shared the experiences and lessons learned from their membership of 17 national farmers’ organizations (FOs) in 13 countries in Asia, of which two national FOs are agri-coops. Mr Jose Ebron of Coop NATCCO presented “Good Practices of Empowering Family Farmers: Agri-Cooperatives” and focused on three topics: cooperatives and agriculture; not just credit, but also participation in the values chain; way forward.
The forum participants prepared an initial mapping or database of where the agri-coops/FO participants are viz structure, existing initiatives, important issues and challenges, opportunities, and action points. The participants also agreed that: (i) a Technical Working Group (TWG) be created to work on the formation of a national federation of agri-coops within the next 6 months to one (1) year; (ii) the TWG will include PAKISAMA and partner institutions, as well as representatives from agri-coops/FOs; (iii) the TWG will work towards the Founding Congress of the national federation; and (iv) the CDA can provide technical advice. The participants also affirmed their continued commitment to support the efforts to establish a national federation of agri-coops.