ADAMA — THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD Newspaper 26 April 2016: In over six decades journey of Cooperatives in Ethiopia, there are several well established cooperative unions that have changed the lives of their members while other have been operating in bankruptcy for many years.
To assess the progress and possible challenges of cooperative unions in some parts of Amhara and Oromia states as well as Addis Ababa City Administration, the Federal Cooperative Agency recently organized a three-day field visit for the House of Peoples Representatives Agricultural and Natural Resource Affairs Standing Committee and journalists drawn from State and Private media outlets.
In an awareness training organized for the visiting group as part of the visiting programme Agency Director General Osman Surur said some state officials and the general public are not familiarize with the basic principles and irreplaceable roles of cooperative unions for a given country’s economy.
“Many people still think that those who form or join cooperative unions are only poor people. This wrong attitude towards cooperative unions need to change right away in a bid to own worldwide competitive cooperative unions and to bring about meaningful economic justice for all,” he noted.
Exemplifying the cooperative unions of the developed countries, Osman said that around 256 million of Americans are in one way or another members of various cooperative unions, which have been playing a pivotal role in placing America ‘s economy on top for several years.
Osman said that most chairpersons of the cooperative unions at zonal levels have been removed from their positions for poor leadership skill in which he said they also have lack of awareness about the nature of cooperative businesses in the country. He said that some state officials have also attitudinal problems.
Pointing out the challenges facing local cooperative unions, he outlined lack of proper and timely internal audit, market facilities, qualified person, among others, as major problems.
During the field visit, the group visited Wedera Farmers Cooperative Union at Debre Birhan Town and exchanged views with the leaders and members of the union. The union has its own flour factory and two big stores with capacity of holding over two thousand quintal of various crops.
Similarly, the group met the workers and the management of Abdi Gudina and Awash Saving and Credit Cooperative Unions at Adama and Mojo towns respectively. Hence, the group has witnessed the successes and challenges of the unions.
While briefing the visiting group, both the unions said that they are now working in their own buildings worth millions of Birr that enabled them to provide reliable saving and credit services to their members mostly for farmers. The group also visited Lome and Erer Farmers Cooperative Unions as well as Ada’a Milk Cooperative at Bishoftu and Mojo towns respectively.
In the final day of the visit, the group headed to Birhan and Agar Consumers Cooperative Unions found in Addis Ababa and made observation the day in and the day out activities of the unions.
Members of the Standing Committee have extended appreciation for the role played by the two unions in stabilizing the market of basic commodities for the public in their respective localities.
Committee Chairperson Almaz Melese told journalists that the visit has enabled committee members to have first hand information from actual operators in the businesses. She said the visit would be very supportive and helpful in soliciting inputs for the ongoing efforts to amend Cooperative Societies Proclamation No. 147/1998.
According to the Agency, the total capital and members of the Ethiopian Cooperative Unions has reached 14 billion Birr and over 13 million members respectively.
BY DANIEL BEYENE