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Coffee cooperative donates Shs 27m to COVID-19 fight in Ankole region

The Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU) yesterday contributed Shs 27m and 50 packets of roasted and ground coffee to the national COVID-19 task force to support national efforts against the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

During the handover ceremony held at the union’s head offices in Sheema municipality on Monday, Shs 15m was given to RDCs from ten operational districts within greater Ankole in their capacities as heads of the COVID-19 taskforces in their respective districts. 

A further Shs 12m was handed over to district heads as part of the conditional funds to help transport expectant mothers to different health units for medical services during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Ankole Taskforce Members standing at one of the stores of Ankole Cooperative Union in Kabwohe SHeema Municipality.

The districts that benefited, namely Sheema, Mitooma, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Ntungamo, Mbarara, Kiruhura, Ibanda, Rubirizi, Kazo and Rwampara, are major areas of operation for the union.

According to the coffee union General Manager, John Nuwagaba, the donation to each district was meant to boost the respective districts’ task forces in implementing guidelines put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“This arrangement was a kind of giving back to our farmers who contribute greatly to the coffee production in the Ankole region,” says Nuwagaba.

He asked the task forces to utilize the donations appropriately to help the targeted beneficiaries.

Humble beginnings

According to Bushenyi District Commercial Officer (DCO), David Byamukama, the Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union was born at the time when the once formidable Banyankole Kweterana Cooperative Society was failing.

 “ACPCU came into existence as a result of problems with Banyankole Kweterana cooperative union. In the late 1990s, most of its assets had been mortgaged and it could not continue operating.  So we decided to start Ankole Coffee Producers’ Cooperative Union around 2006. It started with only Shs 1.5m,” explained Byamukama.

Today, the cooperative brings together several primary cooperative societies in the greater Ankole region, with over 8200 members. 

Multiplier effect

Byamukama says the union has created a multiplier effect by buying coffee directly from the farmers at a premium price.

“This has enabled the union to buy from private dealers because it offers a better price than the conventional market rate.”

In addition, he says the union has now started supporting community projects in districts with cooperative societies affiliated to the union.

“Individual cooperatives which are affiliated to the union identify a project then it’s funded by the union depending on how much coffee the cooperative has sold to the union,” he explained.

“For instance, in Bushenyi, the union has contributed to the construction of teachers’ houses, classroom blocks and putting up protected springs and any project beneficial to the community.” 

Byamukama says that more SACCOs and primary cooperatives in Bushenyi are being mobilized to make contributions towards the national fight against COVID-19.

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