The Meki Batu Fruit and Vegetables Growers’ Cooperative Union is a perfect example of what can be achieved when a group of small-scale farmers collaborates toward a common goal.

The Ethopian cooperative originally began with 48 participating farmers, but today includes more than 170 growers who are proud of their quality certified green beans, onions, and cabbage. The average land size per farmer is about one hectare.

GLOBALG.A.P. certification is being implemented by a project financed and technically supported by the Meki Batu Union, the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA), and the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA). Meki Batu Union member farmers operate under the supervision of the union and receive training, technical support, and inputs (seed, fertilizer, pesticides) from the union on a credit basis. Agronomists and crop protection experts are hired at the union level by the project partners and provide advice in all aspects of production. In its daily work, the group has a GLOBALG.A.P. implementation team, in which all members work to ensure the quality of the system and products.

The idea for certification initially came because of fluctuating domestic market prices for fruit and vegetables, resulting in farmers not getting good returns. Producers were not able to access the more favorable international markets, as they could not provide proof that their products comply with international quality standards. However, through GLOBALG.A.P. certification, farmers can now produce higher-quality products and thus access further markets with more favorable prices both locally and internationally.

An immediate issue facing all farmers in the region is that they all depend on water from Ziway Lake, the volume of which is constantly diminishing. The implementation of good agricultural practices in accordance with GLOBALG.A.P. has enabled producers to mitigate the respective risks by improving their use of agro-chemicals and reducing their water requirements.

Today, the cooperative sells its certified products primarily to Ethiopian Airlines, which requires quality produce for its international clientele. Efforts are also ongoing to expand the product destinations as soon as a critical mass of farmers with GLOBALG.A.P. certification has been reached. That is why one of the union’s primary goals is to find more farmers to join the mutual cause. As GLOBALG.A.P. requirements may be challenging for small farms to achieve individually, all farmers thinking of becoming certified are advised to join a cooperative like Meki Batu, which is a great example of what can be achieved by working together. Meki Batu underlines the fact that group certification is the leading model for introducing quality assurance and reducing certification costs for small-scale farmers.

Meki Batu Fruit and Vegetables Growers’ Cooperative Union, Ethiopia
GGN 4056186928382

 

Photo credit: Meki Batu Fruit and Vegetables Growers’ Cooperative Union