GULU – West Acholi Cooperative Union is on a mission to rescue people in Acholi land from the claws of hunger and starvation by increasing food production among its members.
Acholi land in northern Uganda includes the districts of Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo, and Pader.
The union is making a great pitch about empowering primary cooperatives in areas with food scarcity to grow more in order to diminish food insecurity.
West Acholi Cooperative Union Limited (WACU) was established in1960 – and currently has about 9,300 members with 60 primary cooperatives in the northern districts of Amuru, Nwoya, Gulu and Omoro. Each primary cooperative has between 60-150 members.
Wilfred Ocira, the agricultural assistant at (WACU), said the union has given out beans and maize to 10 cooperatives targeting mainly women and youth.
“Our baseline survey that was conducted last year indicated that most members of the cooperative lack food in their homes, which is something we thought, needed to be dealt with,” he said.
He said the union is targeting to help 100 women and 100 youth. Each member is given 30kgs of beans and 10 Kgs of maize seeds to plant largely to increase food production among cooperative members.
To own the process too, beneficiaries contribute 13.5 percent of the money used to procure seeds, Ocira said.
Christopher Acaye, the chairman of Amilobo Cooperative Union, said women are breadwinners in most homes and therefore, are key players in the food security enhancement program. He said food production is key to having steady homes.
“This is a relief to us and I know many homes’ livelihoods will get improved,” he said
Jackson Okwera, a member of Puranga- Gem Cooperative Union, said many members have been rowing over the little money they get from selling produce to cooperatives. But since they have been allocated seeds to boost their home food production all is sorted, he said.
“In many homes, we have seen cases of violence brought on by a failure to share what has been gotten from selling produce and how to allocate the money to buy food for home use,” Okwera said.
Bob Albert Ogen, the general manager of West Acholi Cooperative Union, said there are cases of gender based violence spurred by the lack of food in homesteads, which prompted the union to act.
“This is the first year of giving out seeds and we are emphasizing growing crops that are bought by the cooperatives and also food for domestic consumption,” he said.
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