Commercial officers urged to guide farmers form cooperatives

LIRA-District commercial and extension officers in Lango Sub-region have been advised to guide farmers to form cooperatives as the most realistic means of weeding out poverty in Ugandan households.

The Lira Resident City commissioner, Lawrence Egole said by being under cooperatives, farmers in the sub-region will have a strong voice to dictate on the price of their produce and evade exploitation by the middlemen.

The sub-region composed of nine districts, which include Lira, Dokolo, Amolatar, Otuke, Alebtong, Kole, Apac, Kwania and Oyam including Lira City. It has over 50 farmer cooperatives.

A number of them are making progress such as Alito Joint farmer cooperatives engaged in maize, sunflower and soyabean production, Lira Multipurpose, Ogini farmers in Alebtong, Ayee Medo Ngeca in Dokolo, Patawali in Otuke, St. Luke in Kole among others.

Others are in the verge of collapse due to financial challenges, poor members’ contribution, record keeping and greed over finances according to Fred Doi, the regional manager of Uganda Oil Seed Producers and Processors Association.

“I want to urge people, let us form cooperatives because this will help us to move from poverty to some level,” he said.

“A number of people are still stuck in subsistence farming. You find somebody has 30 acres of land but he is utilizing only one acre,” he said.

Egole said supposed 50 people come together and each till four acres and produce one single crop, they will have the bargaining power more than a person stuck in peasantry farming.

“You will be powerful economically, therefore let us regroup and focus because economy is no longer simple, we should change the way we do everything,” he added.

Doi said the cooperatives especially those engaged in farming, face challenges of quality seeds because most of the seeds being used are exported and poor farming system.

“What we are doing in called extractive economy which means we depend on nature 100 percent for us to survive but with time our soil will get degraded and will never support the expected yields,” he said.

He said right now a farmer only gets one bag of simsim from an acre yet in the past you could harvest like six bags.

“That means we are over extracting our environment so instead of having storeyed buildings, the government should provide tractors, dryers and build storage facilities in the villages,” he said.

“If there were tractors, planters and dryers you would see the young people flocking into agriculture because we need the cooperatives which arrange for production and import,” Doi said.

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