Quezon City, Philippines – International and local delegates to the 6th ASEAN Cooperative Business Forum held on November 29-30 at the Novotel in Cubao, Quezon City signed a declaration that commits to promote and advance agricultural cooperatives in the ASEAN region as a vehicle towards attaining inclusive development.
The delegates are representatives of ASEAN Member States, other countries, cooperatives, farmer and fisher organizations, development organizations and civil society organizations championing the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger especially among small farmers, indigenous communities and fisher folks who ironically are the ones who feed the world.
The delegates vowed to strongly advocate sustainable agricultural technologies and promote local industries towards sustainable livelihoods and conservation of natural resources.
In his speech at the opening of the forum, CDA Chairperson Orlando Ravanera lauded the efforts of the delegates to come together to respond to the challenges of the ASEAN Economic Community, which officially began last year.
“Cooperatives are the cutting edge for a sustainable future. They strongly advocate for sustainability specially on food sovereignty. Now, we come together to explore intra-trading among the 300,000 agri coops in the ASEAN region,” Ravanera said.
“When you buy the products of cooperatives, you buy the essentials, the healthy and the organic, and in doing so, you generate massive employment and support the livelihood of the poor and the vulnerable,” he added.
The International Labor Organization has recognized cooperatives for their contribution to economic development and generation of more than 100 million jobs worldwide.
The event was organized by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) of the Republic of the Philippines, in cooperation with the ASEAN Center for Agricultural Cooperatives (ACEDAC) and the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Agricultural Cooperative (ASWGAC), and in partnership with the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) , Federation of Peoples’ Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC) , Nutriwealth Multipurpose Cooperative, KaPandesal Multipurpose Cooperative, AsiaDHRRA and We Effect. The event was sponsored by 23 other institutions, including, 16 national cooperatives, international farmers organization La Via Campesina, three international intergovernmenal agencies (IFAD, EU, SDC) and international agri agencies CSA, FFD, Oxfam.
The results of the forum will be presented to ACEDAC and ASWGAC and will serve as inputs to an ASEAN roadmap on agricultural cooperatives that is geared at promoting a more inclusive, sustainable and equitable ASEAN Economic Community.
The 6th ACBF aims to enhance economic collaboration within the ASEAN Economic Community through cooperatives by providing the opportunity for international partners to share their respective countries’ best practices that will give inspiration and expand development options for ASEAN stakeholders.
The forum provides a platform for the different organizations to discuss key challenges and opportunities confronting them in their effort to establish an economic community within the framework of Social Solidarity Economy.
It also gives a venue to showcase the agricultural products and services through a cooperative trade fair exhibit.
A talk show and a press conference were also held during the event.