Cooperatives & CommunitiesEastern

Lack of reliable power supply cripples business for Serere cooperative

SERERE – Due to a lack of reliable power supply, Kamurojo Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited is still grappling with low business activity, a year after the cooperative installed a rice huller to boost production.

The cooperative with over 1,500 members who grow rice, spends almost all its earnings on fuel to run the rice huller, leaving the members with a little profit margin.

The cooperative installed the rice huller last year in Kyere Sub-county to support the livelihoods of members of primary cooperatives like Kamurojo Integrated Fish Farmers, and Kamurojo Fruit Growers among others.

In an interview, John Peter Okoed, the chairperson of the Kamurojo Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited, told this reporter they offers some opportunities to farmers to earn extra money despite not being connected to the national electricity grid.

Asked how much rice the cooperative processes in a day, Okoed said they produce about four tons because of relying on a generator to power the rice huller.

“In a day we use 20 litres at a total cost of Shs 110,000. If we had cheap electricity, we would manage to hull about 10 tons of rice per day,” he said.

He said the rice huller was procured at Shs 104 million including training of three machine operators.

Okoed said due to a lack of reliable power supply, the cooperative is not able to process the quantities of rice they want.

He also said Kamurojo Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited needs irrigation equipment to enable farmers grow upland rice as government has banned farming in the wetlands.

When interviewed for this story, Veronica Isako, the treasurer of the cooperative, appealed to the government to support them with irrigation equipment, electricity, fertilisers, and upland rice.

She said government’s drive to restore wetlands has left many locals in Serere district are struggling to support their families, adding that growing upland rice would restore hope amongst the farmers.

Isako, a mother of 10, and a member of Kamurojo Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited said rice farming has helped her provide for her family, even though she said farmers need government support when it comes to determining farmgate prices.

Also talking to this reporter, Stanislas Oule, another rice farmer, and a member of the cooperative, said he can harvest 20 bags of rice in a season, even though he cried lack of reliable electricity slows the sale of his produce.

A kilogramme of rice at the cooperative goes for Shs 4,200 when hulled while at the retail price, it is sold between Shs 4,700-5500 per kilogramme.

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