Representatives of agricultural organizations from four African countries—Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, and Mozambique—traveled to Washington, DC, in May to participate in meetings related to the 38th G8 Summit and to sign the “Private Sector Declaration of Support for African Agricultural Development” as part of the New Alliance. Itwas the first time that the G8 Summit included private sector leaders in these discussions.
The delegations, a mix of private sector groups and cooperatives, included seven representatives from Ethiopia, many of whom have partnered with the U.S. Government for years. President Obama’s announcement of the launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was well-received by the Ethiopian attendees.
Tadesse Meskela Gudeta, general manager of the 200,000 member Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union, explained that his union was founded in 1999 with assistance from the USAID-funded Agricultural Cooperatives in Ethiopia program implemented by ACDI/VOCA. Support included assistance for the cooperative to purchase drying equipment, develop skills, increase membership and develop marketing strategies for the union’s fair trade specialty coffee, which was voted one of the world’s best by the Specialty Coffee Association of America this year.
From 2001 to 2011, net income from coffee sold by the union has increased from $16,282 to $6.4 million. The union has paid more than $5 million to its smallholder farmer members in the form of dividends. Furthermore, revenues have enabled the construction and rehabilitation of more than 30 schools, and the construction of health centers and clean water supply stations.
Today, USAID continues to assist Ethiopian cooperatives like Tadesse’s under Feed the Future’s Agribusiness and Markets Development Project, which supports farmers and their cooperatives in boosting production and incomes through improved seeds, management practices, post-harvest storage, access to finance, and marketing for commodities such as wheat, maize, coffee, sesame, honey, and chickpeas.