Agricultural Cooperatives, Opportunities and Challenges, the Case of Bench Maji Zone, Ethiopia

Dejen Debeb, Matthews Haile


The establishment of agricultural cooperative in Ethiopia is significantly associated with and responsible to overcome the problems that individual farmer could not solve solely. The cooperatives were thus permitted to exchange their members’ product, improve market access and directly provide their produce to the market through improving the bargaining power of farmer members. Ethiopian Government has also made efforts for cooperatives development that can be taken as opportunities. However, studies show that the growth of cooperatives in different parts of the country is not up to the expectation. Therefore, this study was conducted with the objective of assessing the opportunities and challenges for agricultural cooperatives growth in Bench Maji Zone, South West Ethiopia. In order to conduct the study, 18 agricultural cooperative were selected based on the age of establishment. Primary data were collected from the members of sampled cooperatives and supported by secondary data. The data were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The findings of the study revealed that there are ample opportunities for the growth of the cooperatives like the legal framework; support of the cooperative union; positive members’ attitude towards cooperatives; women involvement in leadership. However, agricultural cooperatives in the study area faced many challenges including lack of sense of ownership and low follow up and control system; lack of commitment, members little awareness about cooperatives, low participation of members in their cooperatives, mistrust; failure of management committee to serve the members’ interest; management committees’ little knowledge about cooperative proclamations, rules and by laws, limited training access; limited professional support and follow up to cooperatives; failure to adapt the experience of other model cooperatives; little effort to promote cooperative policies, strategies, proclamations, rules and regulations, lack of commitment to find out the problems of cooperatives and fill the gap; fail to organize and provide adequate, quality and timely information on cooperatives and high employee turnover at zone and woreda levels. The above challenges may be easy if educated cooperative professionals were invited to lead the sector. Training to office bearers and education to the members pertaining to their specific needs is another important aspect for the growth of any cooperatives.

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