The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Federal Cooperatives Agency (FCA), and the Tigray Regional Cooperative Promotion Agency (RCPA) handed over a grain storage warehouse to Bokra Farmers’ Cooperative Union on 18 January 2018 in Maichew, Tigray. This marks the handover of the first of 44 warehouses constructed throughout Ethiopia’s four major regions with funding from development partners like the Agricultural Growth Program (AGP) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

In an effort to catalyze the commercialization of smallholder farmers, the ATA, FCA and RCPAs designed and jointly implemented the cooperative storage building project to expand storage capacity in Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray. The facilities are expected to contribute to food security and price stabilization by increasing farmers’ access to modern and reliable storage. Additionally, the project ensures that cooperatives can realize their potential to become successful marketers and aggregators of smallholders’ output by providing staff with management training.

Ato Mirafe Gebriel Marcos, Senior Director of Agri-business & Markets at the ATA, stated “We selected the 44 storage sites based on a number of criteria, primarily, their potential to produce the priority grains of maize, wheat, and tef. They also each serve at least one AGP or Agricultural Commercialization Cluster woreda. These are key locations for impacting the transformation of Ethiopian agriculture.”

Following the official handover, the storage facilities will be fully owned and operated by the respective farmers’ cooperative union (FCU) or primary cooperative (PC) that has helped to build them. Each of the four FCU warehouses has a storage capacity of 30,000 quintals, while each of the 40 PC warehouses can store 5,000 quintals of grain. The expenses have been covered through a cost-sharing mechanism where PCs contributed 10% and FCUs 30% of the costs. In addition to storage capacity, the project has also supplied unions and cooperatives with offices, guardhouses, and toilets, all of which are necessary to ensure the smooth execution of their daily activities.

“Cooperatives have traditionally focused on supporting farmers with inputs, but, increasingly, we expect them to diversify their role to support output marketing,” said Ato Abdi Mumed, Deputy Head of the FCA. “By providing them with top-quality physical infrastructure and management training for staff, this project boosts the amount of produce marketed through cooperatives, and helps them to contribute toward commercialization.”

According to Ato Kiros Bitew, Head of the Tigray Regional Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources, “The project works toward the Agricultural Cooperative Sector Development Strategy’s goal of utilizing cooperatives as the vehicle for smallholder commercialization. It has taken a comprehensive approach to capacitating cooperatives and unions in order for them to meet farmers’ emerging needs.”