July 6, 2013
TORONTO — The International Day of Cooperatives serves to recognize and reaffirm the role of cooperatives. Canada has made cooperatives a priority because dynamic, growing economies create more opportunities for people everywhere. To recognize this day, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Development, announced a new initiative that will help smallholder farmers in Ethiopia explore and develop their potential through earning a living and ultimately improve their quality of life.
"Canada recognizes that small landholder farmers are the backbone of economies in many developing countries," said Minister Fantino. "That is why we are providing technical support and training cooperatives to offer more business-oriented and gender-sensitive services to their clients in Ethiopia. This initiative will enable as many as 1.7 million smallholder farmers, both women and men, to have higher incomes and be able to adequately feed their families year-round."
Smallholder farmers in Ethiopia face a number of challenges in accessing tools needed for production and markets for selling their crops. They depend on a well-established agricultural cooperative system that allows them to work jointly toward achievements that would not be possible if each farmer worked alone. For example, cooperatives in Ethiopia often provide essential materials and services for their members that would not otherwise be available, such as linkages to markets, storage bags for grain, and services such as wheat milling that add value to farmers" raw products.
The Engaging the Private Sector in Support of Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia project, implemented in part by the Canadian Co-operative Association, will strengthen linkages between smallholder farmers and markets in Ethiopia. This initiative will also increase the number of available private companies that provide farmers with agricultural necessities such as fertilizer and that purchase the crops farmers produce.
Cooperatives provide as many as 100 million jobs worldwide, estimated to be 20 percent more than multinational enterprises. They also support market growth by providing goods and services that are not necessarily well supplied by other private sector institutions or by governments. The Government of Canada has also worked with other cooperatives to help local communities in many parts of the world yielding the following results:
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For more information, media should contact:
Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Development
The Engaging the Private Sector in Support of Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia project ($10 million, over four years) will be implemented by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, the Canadian Cooperative Association, the United Nations Development Programme and other local partners.
The Agricultural Transformation Agency was established by the Government of Ethiopia in 2010 to bring together government, private sector, and non-government partners to address systemic bottlenecks in the agriculture sector. Drawing on international experience and knowledge of the Ethiopian context, the agency identifies and, assesses bottlenecks and, then develops and pilots solutions for eventual transfer to, and scale-up by, the Ministry of Agriculture. The agency's establishment is modelled on similar public sector bodies in countries such as South Korea and Malaysia that were instrumental in fostering rapid economic growth. The agency has already achieved some notable successes, including the scaling-up of new production techniques that significantly increased production of "teff", one of Ethiopia's most important grains. The Engaging the Private Sector in Support of Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia project will support this work.