Yesterday, Tuesday 21st November, Director Kees Blokland of Agriterra signed an agreement with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture to modernise and strengthen the cooperative sector. Ethiopia has around 381 cooperative Unions and more than 80,000 cooperatives.
"Agriterra is known in Ethiopia as a club without money, but with great impact. They see us as a centre of innovation and would like us to be active in all regions. The government itself will ensure that this successful innovation is implemented nationwide,” says Blokland. "After Vietnam, Ethiopia is the second country where we have received an appeal from the government to roll out our advisory approach in a major way.”
The signing of the 'Memorandum of Understanding' took place in Addis Ababa, during a symposium organised by Agriterra and in the presence of the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture Dr. Eyasu Abraha and Niek Bosmans of the Dutch embassy in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is a truly cooperative country and cooperatives can play an important role in the reform and improvement of the agricultural economy in Ethiopia. The big challenge is to strengthen entrepreneurship and professional management. The cooperatives will have to make the transition from traditionally run organizations to modern enterprises where farmers decide, pay and benefit. The Netherlands, the cooperative and agricultural country par excellence, can be an example and play a guiding role. Agriterra's main focus is on sharing knowledge and experiences in realising its objective to strengthen cooperatives.
The government in Ethiopia has created a 5-year plan. Agricultural productivity remains important, but the focus is shifting towards market-oriented production of export-worthy crops and livestock farming. Cooperatives play a crucial role in these changes, they must embrace modern technology and ensure better market access for their members. In addition, it is important to create employment by cultivating and processing products and by improving and streamlining the access to (working) capital and power lines. As a leading international specialist in the field of cooperative management, Agriterra is ideally suited to commit itself to this change.