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‘Cooperatives make the small man win,’ Agriculture CEO Servulo Baeza says on International Cooperatives Day

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Posted: Friday, July 2, 2021. 5:22 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: International Day of Cooperatives is on Saturday, July 3 but was observed on Friday with a ceremony in the village of San Carlos, Orange Walk.

“More than ever, Belize and the world need cooperation. Cooperatives are there to support people and communities. Cooperatives make the small man win,” said Servulo Baeza, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) in deputizing for Minister Jose Abelardo Mai, at the San Carlos ceremony.

Baeza said he was very happy to be in San Carlos and applauded the New River Farmers Cooperative, the Orquídeas Women’s Cooperative, and the pre-coop being formed.

Luis Pook, MAFSE’s Communications Director said the ceremony in observation of the International Cooperatives Day is rotated around the country and San Carlos was selected since it has a very successful cooperative, the New River Farmers Cooperative.

Present for the occasion were Registrar of Cooperatives Gareth Murillo, San Carlos chairman Walter Hernandez and members of the New River Farmers Cooperatives.

“[Cooperatives] make the community stronger and the economy more vibrant. Let’s rebuild Better Together. I wish all a Happy International Day of Cooperatives,” Baeza said.

Murillo said that across the world there are more than 1 billion members of cooperatives, 2.9 million cooperative businesses that generate more than three trillion U.S. dollars in annual revenues and create more than 250 million jobs.

“By our presence here we are championing the commitment to rebuild Better Together the economic and social fabric damaged by the pandemic,” Baeza said. “Cooperatives are created from a collective need making them true builders of sustainability.”

“Cooperative economic success and democratic governance ensure that no one is left behind. This, therefore, contributes to eradicating poverty. Cooperatives are instrumental to achieve food security and help end hunger by allowing farmers to produce more and better-quality food through the power of the collective.

“Cooperatives help to empower men, women and children in the world, especially in countries where the latter two are vulnerable. In particular, cooperatives provide women with employment opportunities and contribute to financial inclusion and literacy efforts.”

In noting the successes of the New Rivers Farmers Cooperative, the Orquídeas Women’s Cooperative and the pre-coop in the San Carlos-Indian Church area, Baeza said there are many cooperatives in Belize which because of their resilience, particularly in times of crisis, testify to their sustainability and adaptability.

Baeza added that cooperatives “are important for the people and communities they serve and can become a crucial pillar of the economy.”

Baeza also mentioned that the government “has prioritized agriculture in the national economic recovery process and the MAFSE has structured itself to maximize efficiency and efficacy of the delivery of the services aimed at stimulating production, marketing and trade.”

He added that their Plan Belize “stresses on affordable financing for farmers growing and producing more of what we eat and promoting more consumption of what we grow, among other things.”

As a result, he said, the government is supportive of small farmers and cooperatives, in particular, because organizing into cooperatives is one of the best ways to address the challenges Belize faces.

“Organizing brings strength and the organization and solidarity of the cooperative movement have been highly effective in enabling disadvantaged groups to gain voice, mobilize to pursue their economic interests, and to secure social protection,” Baeza concluded.

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