Co-operative fund celebrates 20th anniversary at Ploughing Championship

An overseas development agency will celebrate a remarkable 20 years partnership with Irish creamery cooperative members, at this year’s National Ploughing Championship

An overseas development agency will celebrate a remarkable 20 years partnership with Irish creamery cooperative members, at this year’s National Ploughing Championship

Close to 1,000 Tipperary creamery suppliers, including members of Tipp Coop, Centenary Coop, Dairygold, Thurles Coop and Mullinahone Coop are amongst those being asked to join Self Help Africa, when the charity marks the landmark anniversary of it’s ‘Grow Fund’.

Almost 4,000 farmers affiliated to 20 creamery cooperatives have supported Self Help’s Grow Fund since it was established in 1992, and have contributed almost €3 million in that time to support farm and cooperative development programmes in some of Africa’s poorest countries. Close to 1,000 creamery farmers from Tipperary are amongst that number.

Self Help Africa CEO Ray Jordan said that it was fitting that the 20th anniversary of The Grow Fund should fall in 2012, which is United Nations Year of the Cooperative.

“The Grow Fund is a real example of farmer to farmer support in action. It has enabled cooperative members in Ireland to back our work- establishing farmers associations and viable farmers cooperatives in our African programmes”.

Self Help Africa, which is the official charity of the Irish Farmers Association will host a rolling reception for it’s Grow Fund members at this year’s NPC, and is inviting farm families who are interested in finding out more about the organisation to join them at the Championships.

The Self Help Africa chief executive said that the support of Irish farmers for the Grow Fund was vindicated this year, when independent evaluators reporting that the incomes of farmers who participated in a major agricultural cooperative development programme in Ethiopia had more than doubled as a result of the scheme.

The post-project assessment reported that a large majority of the 17,500 small-holder farmers who were involved in the cooperative programme had increased food production and incomes, and that many had built better housing, bought new livestock, paid school fees and purchased luxury items including bicycles and televisions as a result.

The chairman of Self Help Africa, Dungarvan farmer Tom Corcoran, who is a former chair of both Glanbia PLC and of Waterford Foods described the Grow Fund as one of the biggest fundraising successes in Self Help Africa’s history.

He thanked all the cooperative creamery suppliers who supported the scheme through their annual creamery payments, and expressed his gratitude also to Self Help Africa’s network of field officers, who had built such a loyal support for the fund from the early 1990s onwards.

Creamery suppliers affiliated to 20 different Irish cooperatives are supporters of Self Help Africa’s Grow Fund, including members of Glanbia PLC, KerriAgri Business, Dairygold, Drinagh Coop, Centenary Coop, Donegal Creameries, Lakeland Dairies, Connaught Gold, Thurles Coop, Town of Monaghan Coop, Drogheda Milk Producers, North Cork Coop, Lee Strand, Bandon Coop, Barryroe Coop, Drombane CA and Mullinahone Coop.

Self Help Africa will mount a series of exhibitions and displays at this year’s National Ploughing Championships to mark the 20th anniversary of The Grow Fund, and celebrate the organisation’s longstanding links with the Irish farming community.

Self Help Africa will be in attendance throughout this year’s National Ploughing Championships at Unit 354, Row L, Block 3.