Fruits growers in Nwoya District have been advised to join cooperatives in order to improve their negotiation power when Delight Uganda Juice factory begins operations in the district come 2021.
Delight Uganda Limited is a leading fruits processor operating under the “CHEERS” brand name.
Despite establishing a branch in Nwoya in 2012, the company’s focus to date has been on recruiting suppliers and building farmer capacity.
However, the manufacturer says it is ready to set up a fruit processing plant in Nwoya district. According to Dr Julian Adyeri Omalla, Delight (U) Managing Director, says the company plans to establish fruit processing plan in the district by 2021. “We are in the final stages of acquiring funding for this project,” she revealed.
Omalla called upon fruit farmers in the district to come together in order to make the most of the opportunities the proposed factory will offer.
“It would be amazing to see the fruit growers organized in a cooperative union because they would have a stronger negotiation and bargaining power, which would be to their business advantage,” she said.
Vincent Langole, Advisor to the board of Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative Society, agrees that a cooperative would wield considerably more bargaining power than any individual grower could.
“Many of us are still growing fruits small scale. That will make it difficult to meet the factory’s demand once it starts operating and affect our bargaining power. But, as cooperative society, we can bargain for a fair price for the farmers,” he said.
Nwoya Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Agnes Akello Ebong said cooperatives would not only protect farmers from exploitation by unscrupulous investors, but even potentially open other doors for them.
“We believe that through this union, farmers would be empowered- as time goes on- to export other agricultural produce they are dealing in.”
However, prevalent farmer prejudice against cooperatives remains an obstacle.
“Many have failed to embraced cooperatives because they are afraid of being cheated,” Langole said. He added that the cooperative society has embarked on a sensitisation drive meant to allay the farmers’ fears.
“We have been moving from village to village telling farmers the advantages of joining the cooperative society,” he revealed.