AgrI-food cooperatives, due to their particularities in different national contexts, may be registered as such or take other forms such as producer associations or others. In this sense, it is important to emphasize that this initiative aims to promote associativism/cooperativism in a broad sense, that is, without limiting ourselves only to those entities formally registered as cooperatives.

What is a cooperative?

The term cooperative means an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Source: “R193 Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation”, Geneva, ILO (2002).

A cooperative is a social enterprise which is defined by the union of a group of people, buyers or sellers, in order to achieve a common goal within a specific economic activity.

One of the principal characteristics is that property is left to the members of the entity in order to benefit everyone and to conform with democratic values, such as the mutual aid principle. Cooperatives prioritize people over economic profit and contribute to the achievement of the social and cultural aspirations of its members.

The UN Resolution on the Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 (A/RES/72/239) already mentions the need to foster the role of agricultural co-operatives and the networks of farmer cooperatives in their efforts to improve food safety and nutrition.

Positive effects generated by agri-cooperativism/associativism:

  • It allows to gather offer and to IMPROVE PRICES
  • Improves ACCESS TO QUALITY SERVICES for its members
  • CREATES sustainable and quality EMPLOYMENT
  • Allows to mobilize more CAPITAL AND RESOURCES
  • The COOPERATIVES are a school for DEMOCRACY

For all these reasons, cooperatives are an intrinsically social and sustainable business model that contributes directly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

IN FIGURES, in the world (Source: Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC)):

1.241.599 registered Agricultural cooperatives with 112.120.167 members.


Agricultural cooperatives have 35.386 offices and retailers in the whole world and 133.811.867.460 USD in total assets.


Agricultural cooperatives have 1.181.682 full time equivalent employees.


Agricultural cooperatives generate 337.705.145.870 USD in annual gross income.


32% of the 300 most important cooperatives of the world were from the agriculture and food sector, in 2014.


428 cooperatives from the agricultural and food industries had a turnover of more than 100 million dollars in 2014.


30% of the cooperatives with a turnover of more than 100 million dollars came from the agriculture and food industries in 2014.