From 29 January till 4 February Agriterra welcomed a delegation of the Ethiopian Cooperative Commission (ECC), the Dire Dawa administration (a government office) and the Dire Multipurpose Farmers’ Cooperative Societies Union to the Netherlands for a study tour. The ECC is the governmental organisation aimed to enable cooperatives of rural and urban society in different types and levels based on their will and resources: build capacity and increase market shares to solve their economic and social problems governed under rules and regulations for the assured members' benefit.
Agriterra has been active as a cooperative development expert in Ethiopia for a long time. And the cooperative sector in Ethiopia is highly relevant for the country as a whole. The number of cooperatives has increased with a double-digit growth rate of about 11% per year since 2011-2018. The aggregate number of individual members increased from 5.1 million to 24.42 million (about 19 % of the population). Currently, there are 99,545 primary agricultural and non-agricultural cooperatives, 395 cooperative unions and 3 cooperative federations.
This study tour was designed to experience and share learnings about the best practices and experience of cooperatives in terms of market linkage facilitation, improving the trade between Netherlands and Ethiopia, access to finance, and the role of Apex cooperatives in supporting through lobby and advocacy. Moreover, the study tour will facilitate policymakers to see the value of creating strategic relationships between the two countries for mutual agricultural benefit. Another objective was to engage with the Dutch government to find support and commitment for the activities of the ECC in Ethiopia.
The delegation visited Royal Flora Holland including the impressive Flower Auction, AQ Roses who owns rose farms in Ethiopia, seed potato cooperative Agrico, dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina, a dairy farmer, the NCR (umbrella organisation of the cooperative sector in the NL), professor Jos Bijman from Wageningen University and LTO Farmer organisation. There they had a meet and greet with Sjaak van der Tak, Chairperson of LTO and Agriterra. They also visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague and had dinner with them afterwards at an Ethiopian restaurant.
The video below shows an overview of the study tour. Also, some participants talk about their experiences, highlights and what they learnt.
Agriterra hopes the visit gave a new boost to the participants' ambitions to build the future of Ethiopia on cooperatives.