Masindi district LC V Chairman, Cosmas Byaruhanga, has challenged residents to form cooperatives with a purpose if they are to reap big from them.
Byaruhanga made the call on Tuesday during an extraordinary meeting convened to harmonize issues related to procurement and installation of Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Ltd’s anticipated coffee processing machine.
The meeting, which was attended by different political leaders and technocrats, was held in Kikingura village Bwijanga sub-county, at the site where the machine will be constructed.
Byaruhanga called for unity, transparency, and tolerance of positive criticism among members of cooperatives if their societies are to grow.
He also warned leaders of cooperatives against selling the societies’ properties without members’ consent,
” Many cooperatives have collapsed in Bunyoro and in the entire country because of selling cooperatives’ properties and misusing of members’ funds,” Byaruhanga said.
“Traditional cooperatives here in Bunyoro had many assets, but if you attempted to trace them now, you would not find any. All this came about because of greed, dishonesty, and lack of transparency and accountability.”
He also hailed the NRM government for putting in place an enabling environment to support the formation of new cooperatives and revival of the old ones that had gone dormant.
Members of the cooperative and some politicians in attendance at the meeting contributed money and materials such as stones, bricks, and sand towards the establishment of the coffee machine.
Julius Twine, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA)’s Coordinator in Masindi, Kiryandongo, and Bulisa, commended the cooperative members for the solidarity and swiftness they have exhibited to ensure that the machine is acquired, and advised them to immediately start working on the site using the available materials.
Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Ltd is slated to acquire a Coffee processing machine with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), under the Agriculture Cluster Development Program, ACDP.
Under the arrangement, the cooperative will contribute 33% of the cost of acquiring and installing the machine, while the government will put up the remaining 67%.
Bendicto Ssensaga, the cooperative’s Chairperson, applauded members for being focused on pursuing this goal.
“Let us maintain this spirit so that we can access even more opportunities,” he urged.
In her submission, Assumpta Amanya, the Masindi district Agriculture Officer in charge of the Bwijanga sub-county, explained to the cooperative’s members how they can apply for irrigation systems under the Smallholder Coffee Irrigation Program, which is also implemented under ACDP.
According to Amanya, 54 members are required to apply, out of whom nine will be selected to benefit after meeting the requirements.
She said that those that qualify will be required to contribute 25% of the project cost, while the government will contribute 75%.
“For a farmer to qualify, he or she must have 3 to 5 acres of coffee, should be located at most 700m away from a permanent water source and be able to cost-share. The amount to be contributed by the coffee farmers will be determined by the distance from the water source,” explained Amanya.
“Successful farmers will be visited by the District Agriculture Officer, the Water Engineer, and other relevant officials to ascertain that they qualify.”
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