DAVAO CITY, PHILIPPINES – The Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development (ICOPED), in cooperation with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and the Office of Research, University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin), held its 2nd International Conference on Cooperatives (ICOOP2015) on October 14-16, 2015 at Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City, Philippines. ICOOP2015 was organized simultaneously with the 7th International Conference on Agribusiness Economics and Management (ICAEM2015) of UPMin, with a joint theme, “The Future of Agribusiness and Cooperative Enterprises: Examining Local and Global Contexts.”
This year’s conference, which is a fitting event for the celebration of the Centennial Year of Philippine Cooperatives, aimed to re-emphasize the important role of cooperatives in agribusiness and enterprise development, recognize them as a viable form of enterprise, and identify opportunities for mainstreaming them in the agribusiness sector. It served as a platform for sharing and discussing novel ideas, best practices, and lessons learned along the themes on cooperative enterprise development; cooperative governance, management and human resource development; cooperative initiatives for food security, environmental sustainability and women and youth empowerment; contributions of cooperatives in socio-economic development; cooperative linkages; and financial roles of cooperatives.
The two-day conference gathered more than 200 experts, academicians, cooperators, government officials and practitioners in the areas of agribusiness and cooperatives from eight different countries in the world. It included a panel discussion composed of experts from the fields of cooperatives and agribusiness; plenary sessions with distinguished speakers from the Cooperative College of Malaysia, the Cooperative Development Authority and the Philippine Cooperative Center; and several parallel sessions where 40 researches and case studies on cooperatives were presented.
In one of the plenary sessions, Dr. Eulogio T. Castillo, CDA Administrator, discussed the commitments and strategies to strengthen the ASEAN Center for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives (ACEDAC). The latter is the principal focal point of ASEAN network of national agricultural cooperative institutions, which aims to implement a Program of Action to promote the development of agricultural cooperatives in the ASEAN Region. Correspondingly, the panel discussion tackled the issue of strengthening Philippine agricultural cooperatives for agribusiness competitiveness. Other interesting topics that were elaborated during the conference were the integrated approach for agricultural cooperative development, the development of human resources and professionalization for the cooperative movement, and the balanced approach in the development and regulation of cooperatives. The conference proper was followed by a study tour to an agri-based cooperative enterprise in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.
ICOOP2015 fostered a fruitful academic discourse in search of possible approaches and ways forward to make the cooperative movement nationally and globally competitive and to empower micro cooperatives, especially the small farmers cooperatives. This is in the light of “the increasing competitive pressures in the agricultural and food supply chains and the recent and upcoming developments such as trade liberalization and globalization, climate change and stresses on the environment and natural resources, increasing concerns for food and nutrition security and safety, and sustainable and inclusive growth” as emphasized by Dr. Isabelita M. Pabuayon, CEM Dean. The conference organizers plan to share the significant outputs and evidence-based policy implications of the knowledge exchange during the conference in the form of a commemorative book, which could be a useful resource for planning and implementing strategies for the international and national cooperative development. (KPQuilloy)