The Meki Batu Union was established in 2002 in Oromia, Ethiopia, as the first irrigated farmer cooperative union in the country. The union aims to sell its members’ produce to local and foreign markets; supply their members with agricultural inputs, credit and timely market information; and provide training and support to member farmers. From an initial 12 cooperatives with 527 members, there are now 135 cooperatives in the union with almost 7,000 individual farmer members.
The union produces more than 50,000 tonnes of vegetables and fruits per year, which are supplied to local market outlets as well as exported to Djibouti and Holland. The union also produces hybrid maize seed, meeting 68% of regional seed demand. Overall the union’s capital base has increased 60-fold over eight years.
Initially, Self Help Africa provided capital to start the union, including support for irrigation pumps and building warehouses; equipment or seed to farmers; staff salaries and training in management, planning and leadership, as well as developing its value chain. The union now operates independently with no further direct support from Self Help Africa.