Across the continent, and especially in Ethiopia, there is a predominant long tradition of rural cooperation, which justifies the choice of location for this workshop. Farmer organizations (FO’s) are still widespread and growing throughout the country. At present, more than 11,000 primary (or grass-root) provide services to more than a million member-households and employ approximately 36,000 individuals in Ethiopia.
The workshop examined the feasibility of “Cooperative Life Cycle Framework” which was developed and used across USA and Europe, in Africa. The architect behind the framework, Professor Michael Cook of Missouri University explained the 5 stages of the cycle: justification, organizational design, growth-glory-heterogeneity, recognition & introspection, and choice. Participants have agreed that the frame could be used as a diagnostic tool to assess the current state of cooperatives in Africa for future interventions.
During the EDC’s workshop, as CTA’s voice at that event, Dr. Benjamin K. Addom, ICT4D Programme Coordinator, gave a presentation on how FO’s have the potential to become ICT for Agriculture Value Added Service providers (VAS). The background of this workshop focused on how CTA has laid the foundation by building FOs capacities through Web 2 and Social Media, Knowledge Management Scan and Platforms.
“Farmer organisations need to be strategic, and to better position themselves within this ecosystem. Then economic, political, & knowledge sovereignty of smallholder farmers can be ensured. Currently, the only successful case we have where FO’s is a VAS provider is in India. FOs should go beyond input supply and output marketing to extension and advisory service providers through ICTs”, said Dr. Addom.
The workshop was organised through the EDC initiative, funded by USAID and led by Missouri University (MU), OCDC and CIAT. The EDC initiative aims to increase the effectiveness of development programs dealing with FOs through the dissemination of knowledge and tools that are specific to cooperative agribusiness organizations.