Lango Cooperative Union leaders have unveiled the Union-led Fisheries and Aquaculture program that will see the union embark on the promotion of cassava, milk, and fish farming in the Sub-region.
Lango Cooperative Union was formed in 1952 by cotton farmers with the aim of promoting cotton growing. However, during the course of its existence, the Union fell upon hard times during which cotton growing, buying, ginning, and selling was heavily affected.
In due course, the Union was forced to take a Shs 2.4 bn loan from the Micro-Finance Support Centre to finance its cotton-growing activities but failed to repay it following a bad season and fluctuating cotton prices.
This prompted the Micro Finance Support Centre to sell off the Union’s ginnery at Ngeta to recover part of the loan.
Change of tack
Given all the setbacks it has faced, the Union’s leadership has resolved to shift from cotton to fish farming, cassava, and milk production, Maxwell Akora, the Lango Cooperative Union Chairperson says.
“We intend to distribute farm inputs to all our 144 primary societies, recruit and train five-extension workers in all the nine districts of Lango and build a cassava factory in Lira in order to promote cassava, milk, and fish farming,” he said in an interview.
He revealed that the Union has already kick-started the construction of a cassava factory at Odokomit in Lira City.
The union leaders hope that the shift in direction will herald better fortunes for members than they did growing cotton which, he said, “did us more harm than good.”
“But we need to streamline our production, build a business culture and target the export market. There is a high demand for the bream [tilapia] in Europe and the Lango Cooperative Union has potential to play a more meaningful role in that market than it now is.”
Patrick Bura, the Kwania District Commercial Officer says the Union has to offer auxiliary services and training to its members if the move is to be a success.
“To commercialize fish farming we have to train farmers, offer auxiliary services, assist them in terms of provision of requisite equipment and machinery, storage and transport infrastructure,” he said.
Meanwhile, members of the different Primary Societies that comprise the Union have welcomed the proposal with excitement.
Ambrose Adoko, the Chairperson of Awila Primary Society in Apac district said he is impressed with the proposed move to new initiatives, especially to milk production.
“In Akokoro here we produce enough milk, but our challenge is market and value addition. Now that the Union has plans to procure a refrigerator truck, I am hopeful that I will reap big,” he said.
Patrick Okello Otia, a member of Alemi Cooperative Society, was more enthused by the proposed turn to fish farming.
“As I speak now, I am at my fish pond, the union should empower its members to grow fish in groups and later get ready and good markets that can help us fight poverty,” Okello said.
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