The suspension of international passenger flights as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed the operations of the Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU), members say.
Bugisu Cooperative Union, one of Uganda’s pioneer cooperative unions, brings together 174 primary societies. It specialises in the production and marketing of coffee from the Bugisu sub-region. It is especially popular as a producer of the coveted Arabica Coffee.
Speaking to theCooperator about the impact of the recently imposed travel restrictions on BCU’s operations, the Union spokesperson, David Mafabi intimated that they have been handicapped by the wide-ranging checks both on air travel and public passenger transport.
He says farmers in the region cannot transport their produce from their homes to their primary societies because the public transport that they often rely on has been suspended for the time being.
“In Bugisu, and in the Union in particular, farmers transport their produce as a group. To do this, individual farmers use public transport to deliver it to their primary societies, and this has now come to a standstill.”
Mafabi says the president’s directive has cast a gloomy shadow over the Union’s operations given that most of the primary societies are spread all over the region.
He added that the halting of passenger flights into the country has had a negative impact on BCU’s sales, especially by limiting the possibility of international buyers interested in picking the coffee directly from Uganda.“We mostly rely on the global market and right now they cannot come to buy Arabica coffee due to the (novel) Coronavirus outbreak that has forced many countries, including Uganda, to suspend flights.”
Nevertheless, Mafabi pointed out that the magnitude of the loss with regard to the coffee already in the Union’s possession was minimal given that cargo transport is still operational, and so they continue to sell their products globally.
Not our bodabodas
The BCU spokesperson also strongly refuted allegations that some farmers aligned to the Union has lost their motorcycles in a police swoop last Thursday that saw over 100 motor cycles impounded in a bid to enforce the executive directive regarding public transport.
“Those motorists who operate in urban settings are not farmers, they are simply people who have come to urban areas to fend for themselves as motorists, but not as farmers,” Mafabi said, adding that the Union has no links to the bodaboda industry.