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Co-ops can ease the food security
Published on: Wednesday, May 08, 2024
By: Mohd Izham Bin Hashim
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Co-ops can ease the food security
Ewon, who also headed the Malaysian delegation to Jordan, stated among government initiatives were the exchange of knowledge and experience between countries to identify factors to create a conducive atmosphere to spur economic growth, job opportunities and social development for cooperatives and the holistic community. 
PUTRAJAYA: Strengthening trade between cooperatives is key to addressing the challenge of food security, with a focus on collective action to improve trade between cooperatives in the Asia Pacific region, said Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives Minister, Datuk Ewon Benedick. 

“The government places a high priority on its initiatives to support the development of the cooperative sector in Malaysia to adapt to the changing environment, build resilience and achieve greater heights,” he said. 

Ewon, who also headed the Malaysian delegation to Jordan, stated among government initiatives were the exchange of knowledge and experience between countries to identify factors to create a conducive atmosphere to spur economic growth, job opportunities and social development for cooperatives and the holistic community. 

He said this at the 11th Asia Pacific Cooperative Ministers’ Conference (APCMC) which was held at the Dead Sea, Jordan, attended by the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (Kuskop) which represented Malaysia along with 29 countries who are members of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). 

The APCMC aims to strengthen the trade ties between the government and cooperatives in order to formulate policies and environmental monitoring that support the advancement and growth of the cooperative sector in contributing to socio-economic growth, in line with ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) principles and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2030. 

Themed “Partnership between Government and Cooperatives for Cooperative Resilience, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth in Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa Region (Mena)”, the APCMC gives focus to government efforts, cooperative movements and inclusive growth in the Asia Pacific particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Among the agenda which took centre stage include exchange of knowledge and experience between countries aimed at identifying factors needed to create a conducive environment to fuel economic growth, generate job opportunities and social development benefits for the cooperative sector and the holistic community. 

Meanwhile, the Joint Declaration of the Asia Pacific Ministers of Co-operatives was endorsed, and the Declaration expressed and recognised the role and contribution of co-operatives in the Asia-Pacific region to economic growth, employment creation, poverty eradication, inclusive social development and environmentally friendly initiatives, and acknowledged the unique role of co-operatives, which focuses on the importance of membership and community in empowering individuals, communities and neglected segments of the population.  

The declaration also affirmed the commitment of regional Asia Pacific Cooperative countries towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 specificially relating to poverty eradication efforts (SDG1), gender equality (SDG 5), economic development and better employment opportunities (SDG8) and facing climate change (SDG13). 

It also includes other matters to be implemented jointly, including intergovernmental and cooperative involvement, to realise common goals, challenges and opportunities for cooperation, while creating a cooperative-friendly environment and improving policies that can act as catalysts for the growth of cooperative movements. 

The declaration will also take into account a number of proposals put forward by Member State representatives, which will be amended and formally adopted at the end of the conference. 

The closing ceremony of the conference was chaired by the Minister of Agriculture of Jordan, Khaled Mousa Al Huneifat.

The 11th APCMC was attended by 18 member countries including Malaysia, Jordan, Fiji, India, Japan, Nepal, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Morocco. 

Ewon also held a meeting with ministers and cooperative leaders from Jordan, Fiji, Palestine and Nepal to discuss issues of common interest, including the potential for expanding markets for products, regional cooperative services and investment through the Malaysian and Asia-Pacific cooperative movements. 

By 2023, Malaysia had registered a total of 15,809 cooperatives with 7.2 million members. By December 2023, the Cooperative Movement’s share capital was RM17.47 billion with assets of RM161.96 billion and income of RM45.5 billion.

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