7th ASEAN Cooperative Business Forum Statement of Commitment
We, the representatives of the ASEAN Member States, together with representatives of agricultural cooperatives, farmers’ and fishers’ organizations, development partners, and civil society organizations, gathered during the 2018 ASEAN Cooperative Business Forum in Pan Pacific Hotel, Malate, Manila, Philippines with the theme “Cooperatives: Members’ owned, Value-based, Sustainable and Advancing Prosperity For All Through Coop to Coop Partnerships”; Recognizing that Southeast Asia is home to 640 million people, with a combined average of 53% living in rural areas, though in some ASEAN countries such as in Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, the rural population is from 60-80%;
Witnessing also that the people in the rural areas of Southeast Asia mainly rely on agriculture for a living, with a farm size of 2 hectares or less, and that farming is primarily a family endeavor; Deploring that while there is remarkable economic growth in the ASEAN region, yet there are inequalities as we still witness massive hunger and poverty in the rural areas, affecting mostly family farmers/fishers/indigenous peoples, , even if they are the ones who produce food for the region and for the world; and are now threatened by violent extremism and serious climate disasters
With a firm conviction, we envision to have a fair and just society where small scale men and women farmers and their families:
• are free from hunger and poverty, are happy and in good health, and live in peace and prosperity;
• have rightful access and control over the lands they till and other basic productive resources; nurture their farmlands through appropriate, integrated and environment-friendly agricultural practices and technologies, get fair market and prices for their products, and have control over their goods and services; and,
• are self-reliant, educated and able to participate in development processes through politically strong, socially responsive, culturally sensitive and economically viable farmers’ organizations and cooperatives.
In moving forward, we will unite to act in building and strengthening, farmers’ organizations and agriculture cooperatives in the ASEAN region to:
a. Expand trading transactions between and among agri-cooperatives and partners through various Memoranda of Agreement or Understanding;
b. Continue to showcase products of farmers’ organizations and agriculture cooperatives through the conduct of the Cooperative Trade Fair Exhibits in each country and at the regional level;
c. Enhance capacity building of agricultural cooperatives through programmatic learning exchanges on commodities of common interests, starting with coffee, in close coordination and consultation with the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Agricultural Cooperative (ASWGAC), private sector, academia and ASEAN Secretariat;
d. Call for institutionalized participation of farmers organizations and agricultural cooperatives in ASWGAC and ACEDAC.
e. Engage the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Agricultural Cooperatives (ASWGAC), ASEAN Center for the Development of Agri-Cooperatives (ACEDAC), ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Social Forestry, ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Crops and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) towards the formulation, lobbying and final adoption and the effective implementation of the ASEAN Roadmap on Agricultural Cooperatives;
f. Engage other relevant ASEAN sectoral working groups such as on crops, on social forestry, to promote partnerships with farmer cooperatives engaged in value-adding endeavors for farm and forest-based products;
g. Enhance more coop-to-coop collaborations, policy forums, learning exchanges, social dialogues as well as other areas for cooperation among stakeholders through Memorandums of Agreement, Memorandums of Understanding and concrete business ventures;
h. Document contributions of agri-cooperatives in the Gross Domestic Product of each country and the over-all United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger, promoting sustainable production and consumption, gender equality, inclusive and democratic institutions, and partnerships.
Signed on the 17th day of January 2018 in Manila, PHILIPPINES.