Approximately 4.5 million Ethiopian farmers – most in central Ethiopia – produce malt barley, an essential ingredient in beer. Although Ethiopia drinks much less beer than many other countries, it is the second largest producer in Africa, and 12 big brewers, such as Heineken and Diageo, have breweries there. Malt barley cultivation is growing at an estimated 24% annually. Cooperatives play a key role: they aggregate farmers’ production, negotiate with big buyers, increase member incomes and overall secure the smallholder place in the value chain. Yet, despite learning that farmers really value the technical assistance and inputs that they receive from cooperatives, about 66% of members do some side-selling. Partnering with Self-Help Africa, the Research Group found both bad news (problems confirmed) and good news (problem fixable). A recap of the study’s findings recently were published in USAID’s MarketLinks blog. You can read it here.