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ROLE OF COOPERATIVES IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT, THE CASE OF SOUTH NATIONS NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLE REGION, ETHIOPIA
Abstract: For small land-holding, developing and agricultural based economic countries like Ethiopia, cooperative type of business is recommended as a solution to promote income distribution, reduce poverty and vulnerability, and improve quality of life and social welfare. Ethiopia is a second largest populace country in Africa and has nine regions and two city administrations. South Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) state is third populace and most densely populated region in Ethiopia. Most of the farmers’ in this region have small plot of lands for their living, farming and raising animals. It is obvious that such smallholder farmers are characterized by producing small amount of produce. They might bring small portion of their product to market, and the earnings might goes to cover their routine expenditure and might save the remaining for next farming season. Having this clear fact in to consideration, Since 1960s, the government of Ethiopia is promoting the significance of cooperatives as an organization that could enhance the development of small scale-farmers and other communities. Unlike other regions, SNNPR is the pioneer for starting cooperatives type of business; cooperatives are still flourishing in the region. Cooperatives are expected to serve farmers by providing agricultural inputs, output marketing and mobilizing savings and providing credit services to their members. The objective of this paper is to show role of cooperatives in rural development the case of South Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. Until June 2011, in SNNPR state there were about 8872 primary cooperatives, 44 Cooperative Unions and One Regional Farmers Cooperative federation are established. These cooperatives have a membership of male 693,898 (77%) and female 209, 861 (23%) totally 903, 759. This is about 30.3% from the total households of the region. Despite early establishment of cooperatives across the region and country wide, cooperatives couldn’t flourish as expected. Past attitude (ideology), lack of committed leadership, lack of good governance (management), lack of working capital, attitude and practice of corruption, lack of knowledge and skill, lack in provision and utilization of improved technology, weak vertical and horizontal linkage within and among cooperatives, lack and inappropriate support from government and other stakeholders.
Keywords: Cooperative, Agricultural Inputs, Marketing, Saving and Credit