Seed-cleaning machine generates additional income and services


Written by Dita Beshada, cooperative advisor Ethiopia

For the past 19 years, Wirtu Kechema Seed Multiplication Cooperative in Ethiopia has been actively involved in the seed multiplication business. As a result, this cooperative has developed practical seed multiplication techniques and has increased members’ income. 

After production, value addition is an important activity to attract more buyers and maintain the quality of the seed. The processing of the seed involves cleaning, grading, treating, packaging, and storing operations. Processing is a value-adding activity which improves the physical purity and health of seed stock by removing various contaminants like undersized and shriveled grains, inert matter, and seeds of other crops. 

Spotting opportunities

Board members together with the team of Agriterra cooperative advisors have identified an opportunity to enhance sustainable service provision for members and generate additional income for the cooperative. This involves activating a seed-cleaning machine that has remained idle since the cooperative’s establishment due to the lack of three-phase electricity. 
Immediately after the validation of the cooperative assessment of Wirtu Kechema, a contract was signed for the development of an action plan in the framework of the Agriterra Acting Now project. The activation of the seed-cleaning machine was one of the planned actions for 2023. Thanks to Agriterra’s technical support and member commitment, the seed cleaning machine was activated and started service provision to members.  
Agriterra contributed significantly in the search for qualified organisations offering machine maintenance and they contacted the Dodola branch of the Ethiopian electric utility service to arrange for three-phase power. Agriterra’s support was both technical and financial.
Thanks to a close follow-up of the cooperative advisor, the seed cleaning machine was serviced and successfully activated after having been non-functional for eight years. From now on, it will be providing seed cleaning services that will increase the income of the cooperative. In the meantime, the cooperative has started to package the improved seed varieties themselves and distribute their improved varieties to the nearby farmers.

The results

Agriterra’s comprehensive support to Wirtu Kechema seed multiplication cooperative has had remarkable results, such as:
  • The realisation of members’ investment ambition by allocating budget and increased trust between board members and members of the cooperative after the seed cleaning machine activation.
  • Creation of job opportunities. 
  • Membership commitment to supply their production to the Wirtu Kechema PC increased. 
  • New members joining the cooperative. 

About the cooperative

Wirtu Kechema Seed Multiplication Cooperative was established in 2005 with an initial membership of 75 persons, of which 25 were women. The startup capital was 2500 ETB. Currently, the cooperative membership has grown to 120 persons and the capital has grown to 4,500,000 ETB. 
Wirtu Kechema has a total of 320 hectares of land suitable for seed production and is currently working together with Raya Wakena Multipurpose Farmers’ Cooperative Union. 
The cooperative is governed by a board of seven members, elected by the general assembly of the cooperative. Currently, there are five permanent staff members (one general manager, one agronomist, one seed cleaning machine operator and two security guards) and more than three temporary workers for the machine-operated seed cleaning, loading, and ordering/packaging of the cleaned seed.

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