Credit Union Agricultural Finance
Credit Unions- RUSACCOs
Currently, there are 8,220 saving and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), or primary credit unions, in Ethiopia located throughout the country. They serve nearly 620,000 members and average less than 100 members each. SACCOs are primary cooperatives that include both urban and rural saving and credit cooperatives (RUSACCOs) and form RUSACCO Unions.
RUSACCOs alone have mobilized about 250 million Ethiopian birr (about US$15 million) as of June 30, 2011, from their rural members. WOCCU is working with RUSACCOs to connect farmers to finance and markets, facilitate training on agricultural techniques and ultimately increase production income.
Savings & Loans
Since RUSACCOs provide loans based on a multiple of the member's savings, a high number of farmers in rural Ethiopia have formal savings accounts. Nonetheless, members primarily use savings accounts to access loans, and RUSACCOs have struggled with mobilizing low levels of liquidity to deliver an adequate amount of credit to their members. WOCCU is working with the small institutions to mobilize larger volumes of savings how? in order to increase the long-term availability of loans to farmers.
Agriculture & Agricultural Finance
Ethiopia's major agricultural export crop is coffee, providing about 65% of Ethiopia's foreign exchange earnings. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with more than 15 million people (25% of the population) deriving their livelihood from the coffee sector. Other important crops grown in Ethiopia include pulses (a type of legume), oilseeds, cereals, teff, potatoes, maize, sugarcane and vegetables.
In addition to providing individual and group loans for members (farmers), RUSACCOs are financing existing value chains, which include input suppliers, farmers, processers and buyers, that produce main cereal crops including maize, wheat and teff (a local grain). Farmers have typically had to rely on the financial institution's discretion as to which specific activities or inputs their loan would finance, often limiting the farmers' ability to expand. RUSACCOs participating in WOCCU's program are developing demand-driven products that give farmers more control over their investments. The WOCCU program aims to provide agricultural finance and training to 16,500 farmers.
Increasing Food Security
WOCCU's Ethiopia program operates in the regions of Amhara, Oromia and Tigray, which are considered agriculturally important to the country and have a high concentration of farming households and existing RUSACCOs. Crops that will be financed include:
- Eastern and Central:
- Teff, millet, cactus fruit, honey, corn, sorghum, wheat, barley
- With irrigation infrastructure: tomato, onion, cabbage, fruits
- Highlands: barley, wheat, beans, peas, lentils
- Lowlands: sorghum, cactus fruit, honey, corn, teff, wheat
- With irrigation infrastructure: tomato, potato, carrot, onion, cabbage, fruits
Climate change has significantly affected rain-fed agriculture and contributed to soil erosion across the country. In a recent WOCCU survey, Ethiopian farmers cited irrigation as their top need to improve yields, followed by better livestock feed and higher quality seeds.
Together with government development agents and NGOs that currently work with farmer groups, WOCCU is providing integrated farmer trainings that address these concerns and introduce new agricultural techniques to improve production. Trainings focus on areas such as small animal, honey and dairy cow production; the use of large animal labor; cattle fattening; irrigation techniques; and the use of improved seed and fertilizers.