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Form Cooperatives to avoid exploitation, Kenyan envoy advises Lira farmers

LIRA, September 18, 2023 – Farmers in Lira district have been advised to form cooperatives so that they can have strong bargaining power when negotiating prices for their produce.

The advice was given by Maj. Gen. George Aggrey Owino, Kenya’s high commissioner to Uganda while speaking at Lira district local government headquarters during the recent farmers’ field tour.

The farmers’ field tour was organised by TAD Capital and Investment Limited, a private equity house focused on environmental conservation, organic mixed farming, financial services, and real estate among others.

Owino further said forming cooperatives would protect farmers from being farmers manipulated by the middlemen who aim at maximising profits.

He added: “When farmers come together to form cooperatives with the aid of experts, it will make us succeed. Working as individual farmers is not good because it gives the middlemen advantage when it comes to selling the farm produce.”

“One of my biggest interests is food. Kenya is not food abundant country; Kenya is a food-deficient country because of Geography, because of weather…How can Kenya and Uganda partner so that we feed Kenya because we are all Africans? If you have food in your homestead and I don’t have it, I will come to you either to beg or to steal. Let’s form cooperatives and produce enough food,” Owino said.

Speaking to the farmers, Julius Peter Kinyera, chief investment officer TAD Capital and Investment Limited said, “As TAD Capital we are working hard to ensure that farmers establish better storage facilities and improve management techniques to curb the toxicity burden faced by the farmers.”

Patrick Ogwal Onyima, Lira district vice chairman said they are committed to improving the lives of the jobless young people through commercial agriculture.

However, Hellen Anyango, Lira district deputy chief administrative officer noted that most farmers in Lango Sub-region are currently unable to have bumper harvests due to unreliable rainfall, which is blamed on climate change.

“Most of our farmers are still depending on rain-fed agriculture, but as you can see now, gardens are dry as a result of unreliable rainfall. Most farmers are realising very low production. It is my appeal that the government provides irrigation to our farmers so that they produce enough food and eradicate extreme household poverty,” she said.

One of the farmers talked to by this reporter appreciated the need to form cooperatives, saying individual farmers have always been cheated by middlemen when it comes to determining the prices of their farm produce.

“I welcome the idea of farmers forming cooperatives. Through cooperatives, we will benefit when it comes to production, and marketing,” she said.

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