Nearly 200 farmers in Lamwo district are threatening to quit their cooperative society – Agoro Cooperative Society in Agoro Sub County for failure to secure for them market for their produce.
The farmers who are predominantly engaged in fish, vegetable and cereal farming accuse their leaders of not doing enough to find reliable markets – one of the main reasons for starting the cooperative, leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous middlemen.
Suzan Acio, a vegetable farmer in Agoro sub-county told theCooperator that the cooperative has failed to mobilize farmers into collective marketing, leaving them to fend for themselves against several obstacles.
“It’s now upon us farmers to travel with our produce to markets far away to look for buyers. We lose a lot every season especially we who deal in perishables like vegetables. So we are forced to sell cheaply as if we do not belong to a cooperative,” she said.
Ismail Ogak, the chairperson of Agoro vegetable growers under Agoro Cooperative told theCooperator that a bucket of tomatoes is now going for a paltry Shs. 1000, while as many as 10 cabbages go at a mere shs.2000. “This is because if we don’t sell, they will rot,” he lamented!
Joachim Opira, another farmer growing maize and rice in the sub-county said the cooperative has only provided them a store to keep their produce, but has done very little to source for them markets.
When contacted, Moses Olweny, the vice-chairperson Agoro cooperative society refuted suggestions that the cooperative was not being helpful to farmers. He said the challenge they face as a cooperative in finding reliable markets for their members’ produce is that the farmers don’t produce in large quantities to sustain the market, while for others, their produce is often of low quality.
He said the cooperative was moving to set up a common bulking center for farmers, from which they can collect all their members’ produce and sell at ago.
“Farmers have to ensure that the quality of their products is beyond reproach, and bulk their products in a common store, because the bigger the quantity of produce, the easier it is to find market.,” Olweny said.
Currently, Agoro Cooperative Society boasts of close to two hundred members, who jointly farm over 1,650 acres of land.