The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) has called upon the government to speed its intervention in reviving the Cooperative Societies.
UP says although government expressed a positive gesture by working on the implementations of these Cooperatives which it (government) banned over 30 years ago, the speed is still low.
Addressing journalists at the party headquarters in Kampala on Wednesday last week, Muzei Faizo, the party Head of Media and Communications said that there is need to have effective Cooperative Societies in order to give farmers confidence and ensure quality product.
“The government should revive and promote Cooperative Societies that will ensure extension services, access to markets and negotiate better terms of finances in the intersect of famers and emphasize modernization of agriculture,” he said
“There is an utmost need to have effective agricultural cooperative societies in order to give farmers confidence and ensure quality products. This is coming at the time when our farmers are to face individually a lot of challenges and losses especially in securing of agricultural inputs such as; quality seeds, fertilizers, hoes and pesticides among other things as well as marketing of their produce at the appropriate prices. At the same time the public who are consumers are also treated to erratic supplies of goods and services,” he added
According to Muzei, the revival of Cooperatives will help farmers secure proper markets as well as protect them from external threats like; banning of their agricultural by some countries for example the current maize standoff in Kenya.
While adding to Muzei’s submission, Ben Bakkabulindi Kigongo, the party Assistant Secretary General told the District Focus that farmers are likely to face more challenges and losses especially in securing of agricultural inputs such as; quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides as well as “marketing of their produce at the appropriate price especially at a time when our trading partners are closing their boarders for Uganda agricultural products,”
Bakkabulindi added that the current free market -based model favors the middle men at the expense of the farmers and yet Ugandan farmers and their products would have come to this point if the government had revived the cooperatives and quickly intervened to provide solutions to the farmers.
“As UPC we have concerns that while the government had decided to revive societies, there is a lot that still needed to be done and that the government was doing everything at a slow pace,”
He noted that most of the Cooperative like; the Banyakole Kweterana have collapsed and that only the Bugisu Cooperative Society has managed to survive though with significant hardships.
“During those days, Cooperative Societies used to define what farming would be like, they offered fertilizers to the farmers, safe storage facilities, farming equipment, financial aid in form of loans and these made sure that there was always a stable price when it comes to selling and buying farmers product,” he said
According to Bakkabulindi, each region had Cooperative Societies and farmers were divided into clusters whose benefits were seen directly from the village level up until the district and these had influence even at the parliament
“People who wait to hear prices of coffee presented at the floor of Parliament, this helped to regulate inflation even times of difficulty,” he said.
Bakkabulindi said that their major worry is that in spite of government plans of reviving this Cooperatives, there is no sign that the implementation will kick off tomorrow or the other day.
He for example said that there was no rocket science in reviving these cooperatives and that he could even write a policy paper to show their determination to promote the cooperatives.
Citing the substandard quality of most products, which may even be hazardous to human health, Bakkabulindi noted that the government should fully invest in the Uganda National Bureau of standards (UNBS) to enable the bureau do its work of ensuring standards effectively this would also work on the unnecessary hike of price from one commodity t another.
“There is also a need to put in place government body that ensures the quality of all farming imports and exports to reduce the fake farming products on market such as fertilizers, chemicals, seeds, farming equipment among others that in turn frustrate the consumers,”
Cooperative Societies were formed by the local farmers as strategic plan to put an end to the then prevailing unfair trade policies in late 1970s especially by the Indians who used to buy farmer’s products at a cheaper price and then sold them a relatively high price a thing that annoyed the local farmers.
This started as a simple strike against the Indians but late on they decided to support the local farmers and form Trade Unions which scrapped off by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government in 1896 due to the increased debts and failure to compensate the farmers who lost their property. Many Societies members reportedly still demand the government up-to-date.