In recent field visit to Admas Farmers Cooperative Union (AFCU) at Wolkite, Gurage Zone ,the Ethiopian Herald had approached Federal Cooperative Agency Director General Osman Suru. He said that the visit was aimed at evaluating Admas Farmers Cooperative Union(AFCU) performance status and to share its experience to other agro-possessor oil factories that are on pipeline.
The crew comprises of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, stakeholders and international organization which are engaged in supporting cooperative unions . As it has been put in the country’s policies and strategies, cooperative unions have been given due emphasis on their peerless role in realizing the rural transformation process.
AFCU has started oil refinery process with linseed . The field visit by concerned bodies’ had an important impact on the sustainability of the factory . This is because , the visiting group had assessed the factory’s performance status, success stories and expected challenges so as to contribute their parts . The visit also highlighted what must be done the way forward from each concerned bodies like from the Ministry, agency among others.
Such exemplary agro-processing oil refinery factory will be a showcase to others who are intended to build oil factory in the country. The country imports oil at a cost of 350 million USD annually . On the contrary, it has untapped raw materials which enable to produce sufficient oil. Hence, ensuring the factory’s sustainable producing capacity, means reducing the country’s expanse for oil. It can support the country’s import substitution strategy. It not only support import substitution but it also facilitates nation’s oil export opportunity too. If such similar factories are involved in agro- processing , the country can fulfill its oil consumption indeed. But, the country exports linseed, sesame and other oilseeds in a raw. “Hence, we have to use our resources at maximum efforts, ”he said.
According to Osman, the country needs modernizing its agricultural sector mode and means of production, starting from inputs supply up to marketing system. Because Industries need continuous inputs supply otherwise , they will stop and expose to depreciation.
Nongovernmental organizations who are engaged in the sector contributions will have a significant impact on building the cooperative unions capacity. They are acting based on the country’s policy and strategy . They have introduced new working techniques, approaches and bring attitude changes, he said.
Currently industrial and agro- Industrial parks expansion will highly elevate cooperative unions’mission. As the country’s economy is based on agriculture, increasing agricultural production and productivity sustainably will have a matchless role in the country’s economic transformation. The economic transformation will be realized , if we actualize agricultural transformation . “We have to continuously support farmers through technology utilization procedures, agricultural inputs supply with affordable price and in quality , so as to enable the country attaining its set goals in the sector . Hence, to realize such activities , cooperative unions can play a pivotal role in this case. But, when we say agricultural technology supply, it does not mean only supplying selected seeds and fertilizers.”
It comprises of a range of ideas starting from generating ideas up to technology adaptations . From extension service up to selected seed , fertilizer, chemical among others access. Currently, almost 98 percent of agricultural inputs have been supplied by cooperative unions, he said.
Most importantly, after the agency had carried out a rigorous evaluation of cooperative unions performance and challenges in the GTP I, the agency has designed and put a clear directives how they assist the nation’s economic development in the GTPII, he said .
The agency has planned to establish cooperative unions which can stress on quality rather than increasing numbers. “We plan to create those who are strong and competitive , lead by its members , ensure their members advantages, accepted by their members. When we say strengthening, we mean working on bottlenecks, filing budget gaps and managerial challenges. We plan to lead by professionals. Because, most cooperative unions were led by committee.”
They have to be professionalized and modern unions. The agency has tended to create a 10 percent lifestyle difference among agricultural cooperative members and non members.
“ If we create such differences, settle accountability, others will request to be a cooperative membership. Hence, We have to work together to solve push factors and bring them to pull factors. If work on pull factors, we will definitely increase the number of members, ” he said.
Most of our cooperatives have capital challenges. Hence, they have to expand their market destinations. If they have few shares they cannot mobilize in millions. They have to increase the capital magnitude in order to be competitive . Members should buy shares. Because cooperatives are business entities. They are not social entities, he said .
BY ALAZAR SHIFERAW