Chercher Oda Bultum Farmers’ cooperative union (COBFCU) in Ethiopia is one of the fast-growing cooperative unions. Currently, the cooperative union consists of 144 primary cooperatives with a total of 43,576 individual farmers.
The cooperative union has been a client of Agriterra since 2018. Its main activity is to market members’ produce and to distribute agricultural inputs and consumer goods to the members and non-members. Currently, they are managing numerous projects, including a dairy farm that, since 2021, has been receiving capacity-building support through the Agriterra-SNV-BRIDGE project. The dairy farm covers 20 hectares of land and has a total of 576 crossbreed cows.
Member farmers are also involved in dairy cattle rearing, and most of the time, women are heavily involved in dairy cattle management. One of the biggest challenges for milk-producing farmers has been the supply of animal feed.
In 2022 Agriterra and the union board members agreed to solve the challenges by making milk-producing farmers organise themselves into dairy cooperatives. The main objective is for farmers to receive quality feed nearby their village and at a fair price. As a result of the BRIDGE-project, nine dairy primary cooperatives with a total membership of 894 (of which 771 women) were established in the operational area of COBFCU.
Sichaalee Dairy Primary Cooperative is one of the nine dairy cooperatives established in July 2022, having a total membership of 201 women milk-producing farmers.
To solve their animal feed storage problem, Sichaalee Dairy Primary Cooperative management approached local administrators to request access to land for the construction of a storage facility and thereafter convinced their members to contribute money for the construction thereof. This request was immediately approved and the local administration donated 500 m2 of land for the feed storage construction. The women immediately started to mobilise resources from their members and collected 30,000 ETB for the purchase of construction materials. Each member of the cooperative contributed labor needed for the construction. As a result of the commitment from the milk producers, the BRIDGE project supplied construction materials like corrugated sheets of Iron. Currently, the dairy primary cooperative is the owner of a feed storage facility and office. The storage facility has a capacity of 15000 kg of animal feed.
The construction has created a good opportunity for the dairy primary cooperative and the COBFCU animal feed processing plant is in the commissioning stage. It has started the production of dairy cow, calf, and fattening concentrate feed. The union board members have already visited the dairy primary cooperative feed storage facility for market linkage.
Members have made a financial contribution of 30,000 ETB and labour cost is estimated to be 35,000 ETB. The primary cooperatives communicated with the COBFCU board members on concentrate feed supply market linkage. Reasonable capacity storage is constructed near milk producers so that the quality feed supply will be realised soon. The cooperative is linked with saving’s and credit cooperatives for working capital to meet the demand for feed supply.
As a result of the members’ commitment and the construction of the feed storage facility, the number of members increased from 201 to 250. SNV biogas technology team has visited the board members of the dairy primary cooperative to pilot biogas technology for members. The cooperative is attracting technology for their members. It is for the first time in the community’s history that biogas technology entered for assessment.
Agriterra facilitated the sharing of experiences by having other dairy primary cooperatives visit Sichaalee. Immediately after this experience of sharing, three sister dairy primary cooperatives mobilised resources of 60,000 ETB, for the construction of their own feed storage facility. As a result of Agriterra’s and the BRIDGE project support, five new feed storage facilities were constructed by mobilising resources from members and through contributions of the project. Agriterra’s cost-share strategy contributes a lot to cooperative development.
The BRIDGE (Building Rural Income through inclusive Dairy Business Growth) project is a five-year project (2018-2023), subsidised by the Dutch government, in which Agriterra works in conjunction with WUR and SNV to improve the productivity and quality of dairy farming and the dairy sector.