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Monday, 29 October 2012

FAO and Ministry of Agriculture fetes Maarifa Centre

By Joseph Kanyi

Ngarua Maarifa Centre has been awarded a certificate of recognition for their efforts that contribute to food security in Kenya. The recognition came from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Republic of Kenya.

Residents of Laikipia West District joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Food Day on 16th October. The Centre together with other stakeholders had ensured the success of the day. Residents converged in Sipili stadium to discuss ways of enhancing food security in the district. This year’s theme was: Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world. The theme was chosen in line with United Nations’ declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

Chief-Guest visits one of the stands to mark WFD 
A gathering of around two hundred and twenty people attended the meeting, which was presided over by Laikipia West District Commissioner represented by senior D.O Henry Katana. There were a number of twenty-six stands of different categories ranging from government departments, NGOs and those from individuals.

The ceremony started by visiting of the stands and planting of ceremonial trees. Later the guests were treated to an entertainment from the surrounding schools and from individual groups. Poems and songs they had a common theme of integrity and cooperation. They emphasized on peace and unity without which famine will devour and consume the country.

The guest dwelled on importance of agricultural co-operation in feeding the world. He stressed the need for different farmer groups to come together to avert hunger crisis in the country. He also explained the critical role that peace and security plays in fostering agricultural sector. He urged the residents to live in harmony to enable the district chat meaningful development.

Pupils entertaining guests at WFD celebrations
In addition to that, the D.O called upon the individuals to make strong cooperation that will raise food production. He also said that the main tool in fighting economy crash is agriculture. If people will turn to agriculture the economic crisis will be something of the past. With cooperatives, farmers are able to voice their concerns and produce. And they are able to find markets for their produce. He also added that well improvised machines would easily reach small-scale farmers if they will be in these cooperatives.

The D.O also campaigned against HIV/AIDs. He said that this is the greatest enemy of food production. He therefore alerted the residents to be much careful of this deadly disease. To this, he said that after getting their dues they should spend them wisely.

The chief-guest also read the speech from the Director General of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Below is the full speech:

Message of the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world.
This theme was chosen to highlight the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives
and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment, and lift people
out of poverty. For FAO and its partners, agricultural cooperatives are natural allies in the fight
against hunger and extreme poverty. Their importance has also been acknowledged through
the United Nations’ declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

Over the three decades of decline in national investments in agriculture and official development
assistance, millions of small producers have struggled to respond and to cope with variability
and crises in climate, markets, and prices. Since the food crisis of 2007-8 many countries have
renewed their commitment to eradicating hunger in the world and improving livelihoods. But in
some cases, concrete political, programme and financial support are lagging behind verbal

The opportunity that the food price spikes of 2007-2008 might have provided as a pathway out
of poverty for small producers was not realized.

Every day, small producers around the world continue to face constraints that keep them from
reaping the benefits of their labour and contributing to food security not only for themselves but
for all through active participation in markets. However, poor infrastructure and limited access to
services and information, productive assets and markets, as well as poor representation in
decision making processes, mean that this potential is not realized.

Evidence shows that those strong cooperatives and producer organizations are able to
overcome these constraints and to mitigate the negative effects of food and other crises.
Strong producer organizations have helped to fill a void. They have been able to overcome
market and policy constraints by providing their members’ access to a range of assets and
services. For instance, they can reduce costs to farmers by allowing them to purchase in groups
and benefit from better retail prices of agricultural inputs. They also make it possible for
members to voice their concerns and interests – and to play a role in decision and policy making

There are numerous examples of strong and inclusive organizations that foster collective action
among people who depend on farming, fishing, forestry, livestock and related employment for
their livelihoods. These organizations operate at the community, national or international level,
working to combine the economic and social goals of their members.

It has been said repeatedly that we have the means to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. What
is needed is the establishment of an enabling environment that allows small producers to take
full advantage of available opportunities. Strong cooperatives and producer organizations are
an essential part of that enabling environment.

FAO supports member governments in helping cooperatives and producer organizations to
thrive, by developing adequate policies, legal frameworks, economic incentives, and forums for
dialogue on policy making. In addition, FAO generates evidence, knowledge and good practice
that supports the emergence of more self reliant, inclusive, gender- equitable, and market
oriented producer organizations and cooperatives.

FAO, together with UN and other partners, including the Committee for the Promotion and
Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) and the Rome based agencies, will continue to
strengthen and support cooperatives, as key stakeholders, to open the door to new
opportunities and to achieve our common goal of a more food secure and sustainable world.
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