ReGIONAL Network for THE developMeNt of

agrIcUltural Co-operatives IN ASIA AND PACIFIC (NEDAC)

NEWS & EVENTS

 

2008

 

FAO-NEDAC Regional workshop on “Role of agricultural cooperatives in response to the impact of natural disasters and climate change”; New Delhi

Senior government officials and cooperative leaders from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand attended the workshop in New Delhi, India from 6 to 8 May 2008 to discuss the role of agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ organizations in mitigation and adaptation to the impact of natural disasters and climate change in Asia.

 

Agricultural cooperatives can be effective natural disaster response managers, protecting the food and livelihood security of rural poor from nature’s fury and climate change, cooperative leaders and officials from six Asian countries agreed at a regional consultation this month in New Delhi.

 

Participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand met in the Indian capital to discuss the role of agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ organizations in reducing rural poor people’s vulnerability to recurrent natural disasters and increasing climatic variations.

 

The May 6 – 8 Regional Workshop on the “Role of agricultural cooperatives in response to the impact of natural disasters and climate change” was jointly organized by the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Network for Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC).

 

Representing 3 million farmer cooa platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences among member nations on policies, programmes and projects for agricultural cooperative development.

 

Asia and the Pacific is the world’s most natural disaster-prone region with floods, droughts, fires, landslides, cyclones and tsunamis among a range of natural calamities threatening rural lives and livelihoods. Gradual changes in mean temperatures and rainfall are affecting agriculture, forests, marine resources, biodiversity and water availability in the region.

 

Climate change particularly threatens small-scale rain fed farmers, forest-based and pastoralist livelihood systems, inland and coastal fishing/aquaculture communities, inhabitants of coastal, floodplain and mountain areas. Reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions from food and agricultural production is a major priority for the region.

 

In a statement at the end of the workshop, Asian cooperative leaders and officials noted that agricultural cooperatives are highly responsive to the needs and priorities of rural poor and should be included in policy formulation on mitigation and adaptation to natural disasters and climate change

 

They also called for integration of traditional knowledge in natural disaster/climate change adaptation and mitigation response, promotion of local-level decentralized cooperative activities, greater role for cooperatives in development of renewable energy including bio energy, promotion of organic farming and encouragement of sustainable consumption patterns.

 

A key recommendation was support to agricultural cooperatives in promoting natural disaster/climate change risk adaptation through developing alternative farm and non-farm rural livelihood opportunities.

 

It was emphasized that agricultural cooperatives need annual government budgetary support to strengthen their capacity to respond natural disasters and climate change.

FAO Rural Development Officer Wim Polman informed the participants of FAO project experience in Bangladesh and the Philippines which shows that an active role by local farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, local governments and NGOs is crucial for reducing the vulnerability of rural poor to natural disasters and climate change.

 

A key component of adaptation to natural disaster and climate change is development of sustainable and alternative farm and non-farm rural livelihood options. This includes ensuring a reliable supply of affordable and environment-friendly bio energy in rural areas to boost farm productivity and non-farm rural enterprises, indirectly helping reduce farming-related GHG emissions. Small-scale cooperative production of bio fuel crops like Jatropha on marginal lands in India and Thailand has a large rural job-creation potential.

 

Cooperatives can also be effective rural communication channels for timely disaster early warning information to rural people.

 

Although Bangladesh’s 145 kg per capita GHG emission is among the world’s lowest, climate change threatens to undermine poverty reduction efforts with nearly 80 percent of the population depending on public commons such as land, open water bodies, forests, grasslands, rivers, estuaries and the open sea. A likely rise in sea level in the Bay of Bengal could submerge up to 20 percent of the country’s land area and cause saline intrusion in river water.

For cooperatives in 12 Asian countries, NEDAC offers a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences among member nations on policies, programmes and projects for agricultural cooperative development.

 

Asia and the Pacific is the world’s most natural disaster-prone region with floods, droughts, fires, landslides, cyclones and tsunamis among a range of natural calamities threatening rural lives and livelihoods. Gradual changes in mean temperatures and rainfall are affecting agriculture, forests, marine resources, biodiversity and water availability in the region.

 

Climate change particularly threatens small-scale rain fed farmers, forest-based and pastoralist livelihood systems, inland and coastal fishing/aquaculture communities, inhabitants of coastal, floodplain and mountain areas. Reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions from food and agricultural production is a major priority for the region.

 

In a statement at the end of the workshop, Asian cooperative leaders and officials noted that agricultural cooperatives are highly responsive to the needs and priorities of rural poor and should be included in policy formulation on mitigation and adaptation to natural disasters and climate change

 

They also called for integration of traditional knowledge in natural disaster/climate change adaptation and mitigation response, promotion of local-level decentralized cooperative activities, greater role for cooperatives in development of renewable energy including bio energy, promotion of organic farming and encouragement of sustainable consumption patterns.

 

A key recommendation was support to agricultural cooperatives in promoting natural disaster/climate change risk adaptation through developing alternative farm and non-farm rural livelihood opportunities.

 

It was emphasized that agricultural cooperatives need annual government budgetary support to strengthen their capacity to respond natural disasters and climate change.

FAO Rural Development Officer Wim Polman informed the participants of FAO project experience in Bangladesh and the Philippines which shows that an active role by local farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, local governments and NGOs is crucial for reducing the vulnerability of rural poor to natural disasters and climate change.

 

A key component of adaptation to natural disaster and climate change is development of sustainable and alternative farm and non-farm rural livelihood options. This includes ensuring a reliable supply of affordable and environment-friendly bio energy in rural areas to boost farm productivity and non-farm rural enterprises, indirectly helping reduce farming-related GHG emissions. Small-scale cooperative production of bio fuel crops like Jatropha on marginal lands in India and Thailand has a large rural job-creation potential.

 

Cooperatives can also be effective rural communication channels for timely disaster early warning information to rural people.

 

Although Bangladesh’s 145 kg per capita GHG emission is among the world’s lowest, climate change threatens to undermine poverty reduction efforts with nearly 80 percent of the population depending on public commons such as land, open water bodies, forests, grasslands, rivers, estuaries and the open sea. A likely rise in sea level in the Bay of Bengal could submerge up to 20 percent of the country’s land area and cause saline intrusion in river water.

The country also pays a heavy price in loss of lives and public wealth to natural disasters with cyclones alone resulting in a loss of US$373.4 million in 2007-08.

 

Bangladesh’s over 60,000 agricultural cooperative with 2.3 million farm family members are preparing themselves to cope with natural disasters and climate change. This includes promoting public awareness, building cyclone shelters, providing immediate relief and rehabilitation, alternative cropping, storing food and essential supplies, and developing partnership with other sectors.

 

India’s about 107,000 primary agricultural cooperatives reach out to each of the more than half a million villages, covering over 70 percent of all rural households. Agricultural cooperatives were in the forefront of immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts after the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state as well as in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

 

Highly prone to typhoons and volcanic eruptions, the Philippines, in recent years has seen climate change seriously affecting agricultural and rural livelihoods, adding to rural-urban migration. The government’s Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) has initiated an environment protection and conservation programme involving cooperatives.

 

The CDA is also developing natural disaster response capacities of cooperatives, including involvement of cooperatives in disaster preparedness planning and programming.

 

Thailand’s over 4,000 agricultural cooperatives are to be part of a national programme to build their natural resource management capacities.