Members of Eastern Kyoga Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society (EKMCS) in Serere district are slowly embracing the Agricultural Cluster Development Project (ACDP), two years after its introduction in the region.
ACDP is a five-year government project that aims to boost on-farm productivity and improve post-harvest handling capabilities for selected agricultural commodities, in chosen areas in the country, by helping farmers acquire agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, tarpaulins and pesticides.
A first-time beneficiary of the scheme is required to contribute 33% of Shs 450,000 in the first season (Shs 148,500) while the government tops up the remaining 67% of the cost of the inputs. In the second season, the beneficiary and government split the cost equally and each pay 50% of the cost of inputs. In the third season, the government pays 33%, and the beneficiary covers the rest.
However, although the ACDP was introduced in 2018, members of the Eastern Kyoga cooperative only started embracing it in 2020 because of a bad experience many had had with a cryptocurrency venture called E-Coin.
theCooperator has established that, in 2016, the cooperative’s then 20 members were persuaded to invest in E-Coin, with the promise that they would reap Shs 150,000 per week.
“Some members of the cooperative even sold their animals to participate in the E-coin venture and ended up losing millions of shillings,” Stephen Epau, the Manager of EKMCS and Chairperson, Omagara Rice Growers, said in an interview.
“Because of that, members became sceptical of any program requiring them to pay money to benefit,” he said by way of explanation of the initial resistance to ACDP which is premised on partial farmer investment.
Warming to ACDP
Nevertheless, Epau said the cooperative’s members, who have grown to 100 in the past year, started enrolling for ACDP after a series of sensitisation outreaches.
As a result of the sensitisation efforts, two farmers’ groups- Omagara Rice Growers and Agurur Cassava Growers- were formed, with 70 members enrolled for ACDP.
“In a day we can register at least five new members. But I believe that when the information spreads, we shall register more. Currently, more than 70 people have finalized the registration process and are just waiting to be availed with the inputs,” Epau said.
Steven Omilgor, a cassava farmer, disclosed that he was conned of Shs 1.5m through the E-coin project, and it took time for him to believe in ACDP.
” But I am now grateful that I joined ACDP because I was able to plant 5 acres of cassava last season-more than I have ever planted before- because of the inputs received under the project,” he said.
Benjamin Odeke, another cassava farmer who joined the cooperative last year, said joining ACDP has made his work easier.
“Much as I have oxen [for ploughing], they cannot do a lot of work in the shortest time possible. But with ACDP, I can use tractors and plough large acres in a short time. The provision of tarpaulins has also made me give clean produce,” Odeke said.
Jennifer Icodu, the Secretary of Agurur Cassava Growers, told theCooperator that she has received 8 bags of cassava cuttings and a tarpaulin, in addition to having 2 acres of her land ploughed
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