By Abdirahman Abdilahi

Many people might not be familiar with agricultural cooperatives, but these organizations have the potential to greatly improve the lives of farmers and contribute to a stronger national economy.

What is an Agricultural Cooperative?

An agricultural cooperative is a business owned and controlled by its members, typically farmers. Unlike traditional corporations focused on maximizing profits for investors, cooperatives aim to provide benefits and services directly to their members. This can include:

  • Bargaining Power: Cooperatives allow farmers to collectively negotiate better prices for supplies like seeds and fertilizers, and for the agricultural products they sell.
  • Shared Resources: Cooperatives can pool resources to invest in equipment, storage facilities, and transportation, reducing individual costs for members.
  • Improved Marketing: Cooperatives can help members find new markets and sell their products more effectively.
  • Training and Education: Cooperatives can provide training and education programs to help members improve their farming practices and business skills.

Challenges and Opportunities in Somaliland

While agricultural cooperatives offer significant advantages, there are challenges to establishing them in Somaliland. These include:

  • Lack of Awareness: Many farmers may not be aware of the benefits of cooperatives.
  • Limited Resources: Access to financial services and infrastructure development can be limited.
  • Need for Policy Framework: A clear legal framework for cooperative establishment and operation is essential.

The Path to Success

There are several steps that can be taken to address these challenges and promote successful agricultural cooperatives in Somaliland. Here are some key points:

  • Raise Awareness: Educational programs can inform farmers about the benefits of cooperative membership.
  • Establish a National Forum: A forum composed of stakeholders in the agricultural sector can advise the government on cooperative development.
  • Develop a Cooperative Policy Framework: A clear policy framework outlining the rights and responsibilities of cooperatives is crucial.
  • Enhance Management Skills: Training programs can help cooperative leaders develop strong leadership and management skills.
  • Improve Access to Financial Services: Facilitating access to loans and financial services can empower cooperatives to invest in infrastructure and resources.

The Role of the Ministry of Agricultural Development

The Ministry of Agricultural Development (MOAD) can play a vital role in fostering the growth of agricultural cooperatives. Here’s how:

  • Create a National Forum: The MOAD can establish a National Forum to guide cooperative development.
  • Develop a Cooperative Policy: The MOAD, in collaboration with stakeholders, can develop a comprehensive policy framework.
  • Support Cooperative Establishment: The MOAD can provide assistance to farmers in forming and registering cooperatives.


Agricultural cooperatives offer a powerful tool for empowering farmers, strengthening communities, and boosting the national economy. By working together, farmers, the government, and other stakeholders can overcome challenges and establish a thriving cooperative sector in Somaliland.

Abdirahman Abdilahi
Head of field Crops and Researcher for Somaliland Institute of Agriculture Research