Admas Farmers’ Cooperative Union exported 880 ton soy beans to China in three months after a marketing training provided by Agriterra during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being forced to change the workshop from a big hotel to the union office due to COVID-19 had a very positive outcome for the union.
In the beginning of 2019, Agriterra agreed to work together with Admas. The union has more than 170.000 member farmers in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. Its members produce maize and oil seeds. In 2019, export numbers were not satisfying, the cooperative was not operating up to its potential and there was not enough focus and knowledge. On top of that, the export manager left later that year, which put the cooperative into an even more difficult position. Addis Yohannes was the business advisor for the union and hired a consultant to help them set up the export process. Agriterra chose to hire a former manager of a union which was supported by Agriterra in the past.
COVID-19 restrictions forced Agriterra and the consultant to change their usual training into a small-group and on the job training and coaching at the cooperative office. “The biggest challenge for Admas was to understand the entire export procedure as well as to optimise the export flow of oil seeds to guarantee quality”, according to Yohannes.
At the end of May 2020, the consultant started the on-the-job training with three marketing employees and the general manager to export soy beans to China. They had an initial contract to deliver 770 ton of soy beans, done in two shipments (374 ton in the first and 396 ton in the second shipment). The training entailed all steps from warehouse to export for the first shipment: understanding the language of the documents, stakeholder management, dealing with price and payments, and arranging transport. The consultant guided them throughout the procedure, until the first shipment of soy beans was in China and all documents were taken care of. The consultant’s experience as former manager and trainee at a similar marketing training in 2014, was very valuable.
Presentation of exercise during training
The second shipment was entirely done by Admas; the consultant and Agriterra advised when necessary. “The export to China had been a great success. Due to the good quality, the buyer decided to import another 110 ton of soy beans from Admas at a higher price”, Yohannes explained.
Over the course of 2019, Admas exported 1.100 ton of soy beans. Due to the training they managed to export 880 ton of soy beans within only three months. Revenue for this deal was 450.000 USD and was partly invested in a cleaning machine. Now, cleaning is done by an external party 300 km away; the new machine makes in-house cleaning possible and Admas will be able to offer the cleaning service to external parties. Also, the cooperative was able to contribute in COVID-19 protection (masks, disinfectant gel, etc.) for the community (USD 3.335 in cash and estimated USD 2.770 to the local administration and province).
Every success story has its challenges, so did the one of Admas. Next to extra costs in shipping due to COVID-19, other complications happened along the way. The protests and the internet shutdown in the beginning of July due to instability in the country, caused difficulties with transport and handling documents with China. The shortage of foreign currencies in Ethiopia however, was a reason for the government to assist in the transport by sending soldiers to guide the trucks with beans to the port.
All in all, Agriterra is very satisfied: “Having this result in only a few months is remarkable”. More positive results are expected from Admas union in 2021. Agriterra will share Admas’ good experiences and success story to other cooperatives. “We prove that with a small investment, you can achieve big results. We are lucky to work with Agriterra”, union manager Meseret Werkie says.
Meseret Werkie, General Manager of Admas Union