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Cooperatives as a tool for poverty alleviation and food production in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sumelius, John and Tenaw, Shimelles (2008) Cooperatives as a tool for poverty alleviation and food production in Sub-Saharan Africa. In: NJF Report, Nordic Association of Agricultural Scientists, 4 (7), NJF Report, pp. 109-113.

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Summary

Self-sufficiency in food production can be guaranteed when agriculture is practiced on the basis of reasonable policy and optimal system. In doing so, the possibility of
securing food production becomes possible in sub-SaharanAfrica. In this regard cooperatives have played a significant role. The present food production system in many
sub-Saharan African countries is such that much of the food supply is produced by the small-scale farmers owning less than 5 hectares of arable land and with 75 percent or moreowning less than one hectare. Obviously this is a strong reason for the creation of poverty to which attention should be drawn to. Farmer controlled cooperatives can assist poor farmers in strengthening their position in the food chain.
In addition to the present agricultural crisis prevalent and the foreseeable danger of undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa, from where the small-scale farmers suffer the most the other major problem is the fact that sub-Saharan African economies still exhibit economic characteristics inherited from the colonial era which still continues to influence the lives of the small-scale farmers. This situation might take time to shift the whole economic structure.
One way to explain further the above issue is by looking into the two main agricultural production lines; 1) food crop production and 2) cash crop production. In general,
food crops are produced by the small-scale farmers on little land in remote areas for home consumption and marketing purposes. On the other hand, cash crops are export
commodities, which through trading fetch earnings more than the food crops. Thus,income distribution of the cash crops among the small-scale farmers is minimal, even
if they are engaged in producing them as portfolio entrepreneurs. Instead, since the cash crops earn export revenues, they are the backbone of state budgets for the
producing countries. Another problem related to cash crops is that the prices are low in real terms in world market which can be the cause of economic crisis at the state
level. Certainly, this is one of the determinant factors of the future of the small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan and the challenge to the problem of food security in sub-
Saharan Africa. Agriculture and rural development become sustainable when they are economically viable and evenly distributed.
Thus, co-operatives can play a significant role in the promotion of food security policy in sub-Saharan Africa if they are rooted in communities and respond to their members
and the interests of those communities (Tenaw, 2008).


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:coooeration, poverty, food production, Africa
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Research affiliation: Finland > Univ. Helsinki
Deposited By: Koistinen, Riitta
ID Code:16455
Deposited On:10 Nov 2009 09:42
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:41
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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