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U.N. food agencies emphasize co-ops on World Food Day

In a joint World Food Day message, the heads of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Federation for Agriculture Development and the World Food Program emphasized the importance of agricultural co-operatives in reducing hunger and increasing agricultural development in poor countries.

The World Food Day theme “Agricultural cooperatives - key to feeding the world” and coincides with the International Year of Cooperatives.

The agencies also released a message from Pope Benedict XVI.

“Agricultural cooperatives have an alternative vision to those economic models that seem to have as their only goals, profit, the interests of the markets, the use of food crops for non-food purposes and the introduction of new food production technologies without the necessary precautions,” the pope said.

“The presence of cooperatives can put an end to the trend of speculation in essential food commodities intended for human consumption, and reduce the large-scale acquisition of arable lands that in many regions forces farmers off their land because by themselves they are too weak to defend their rights.”

The pope's message was read by Archbishop Luigi Travaglino at a ceremony at FAO headquarters attended by dignitaries, heads of Rome-based UN agencies and special guests.