Lessons learnt


Business advisor Aucke Plantinga wrote a blog about the visit of the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and several other high-level delegates to the Netherlands. 

"Last week the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and several other high-level delegates visited the Netherlands to learn more about the Dutch cooperative sector. The result was a very interesting week where both we (Agriterra) and the delegation learned a lot. We visited many different types of cooperatives such as Royal FloraHolland (a large flower auction) and the Rabobank (a cooperative bank with roots in agriculture). It was quite interesting to see that the organisations we visited were already doing business with Ethiopia and most were eager to expand their business.

One of the highlights of the tour was the visit to a Dutch potato farmer who was making his own potato crisps. It was very interesting to hear him present his journey from a “regular” farm to having a factory which is supplying potato crisps all over the country. He is a member of multiple cooperatives (Cosun, Rabobank, winter wheat coop), but related to potatoes he took his own initiative (working together with his neighbour).

During the final wrap-up we discussed the findings of the week and how to implement this in Ethiopia. Some of the lessons learnt were:

  • Allow cooperatives to have non-member experts in their supervisory board
  • It is impossible to solve all problems at once, so it is important to be focused
  • Use member councils to improve communication to members and member commitment
  • If extension services are provided properly farmers are willing to pay for it
  • Cooperatives can have many different functions and forms, government policy should be flexible enough to allow this
  • Having an apex-bank focussing on agriculture can greatly improve the access to finance for the whole sector

All in all, it was a very interesting study tour which will, hopefully, lead to great improvements for the Ethiopian cooperative sector."

Aucke Plantinga
Business advisor Agriterra


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