AN ETHIOPIAN VEGETABLE MARKETING COOPERATIVE USED FOR RESEARCH AND TEACHING: A CASE STUDY
"In Ethiopia the Ministry of National Community Development has recently (1960) taken up the promotion of cooperation, but no results have yet been reported."
An experiment in cooperative organization and operation was started in 1963 by the Department of Agricultural Economics and Business, College of Agriculture, Haile Sellassie I University. The main objectives of this experiment were to investigate the problems of cooperative organization and to determine the effectiveness of a cooperative in introducing improved grading and standardization in the local vegetable marketing system. It was also set up to provide a practical field laboratory for teaching students of agriculture the techniques of vegetable grading, handling, marketing and cooperative organization. This paper is a summary of the problems and results of this experiment during the period 1963 to 1969.
The production area was adjacent to the College in a community where sorghum was the main crop. Vegetable production was a supplementary enterprise on many farms. A large number of farmers produced vegetables during the rainy season but production was restricted to irrigated plots during the dry season, which is normally from October to April. Produce from the area was sold in nearby Ethiopian cities and this area was also the main source of vegetables in neighbouring French Somaliland where Djibouti, the capital city, was the main consuming centre. The consumers there consisted of the indigenous population who had relatively low incomes, the French Army personnel and Colonial government officials who had much higher average incomes. The total population was approximately 100,000 people.
The market was controlled by seven merchants who had integrated all buying and selling operations from the farm level through the country buyers to the wholesale and retail levels in nearby Ethiopian cities and in Djibouti. Competition was limited and the markets were relatively small, so that opportunities for collusion and price fixing existed. One purpose of this experiment was to determine the role a producers' cooperative