Cooperatives & Communities

Promoter meets Lango cultural leaders over establishment of coop bank

LIRA – A concerned Ugandan Lt. Moses Mugisha Magufuri has held discussions with the leaders of Lango Cultural Foundation in Lira City East Division over the establishment of Agriculture and Cooperative Bank.

Magufuri who says he is the chief coordinator for the establishment of Agriculture and Cooperate Bank in the country, says the bank will serve the interests of farmers such as providing cheap credit, quality seeds and other farm agro-inputs.

In March 2023, Magufuri petitioned the Speaker of Parliament over the absence of a cooperative bank in the country, calling on Members of Parliament to support his idea of establishing a new bank that would address farmers’ needs.

According to Magufuri, the establishment of Agriculture and Cooperative Bank would help do away with the middlemen who link farmers to buyers of the agricultural produce.

Speaking of the bank the benefits of the would-be bank, Magufuri said: “It is better to have a bank that understands the farmers, that would give loans with interest rate of as low as 3 percent.”

The Lango cultural leaders welcomed Magufuri’s idea of registering Agriculture and Cooperate Bank, saying most farmers in the sub-region always suffer when it comes to borrowing loans from commercial banks.

For instance, the Bank of Uganda State of the Economy Report April 2023, shows that average prime lending rate inched up 12 basis points to 20.5 percent in the quarter to March 2023, which is prohibitive to most of the farmers in the country.

While also welcoming the idea of Agriculture and Cooperative Bank, the First Deputy Prime Minister Lango Cultural Foundation, James Ajal, said farmers in the area lack tractors, ox-ploughs to boost production since they don’t have a bank that provides cheap loans.

He urged Members of Parliament to support the establishment of the bank, advising that farmers through their cooperative societies would be allowed to buy shares in the bank.

John Christopher Okwang, the chief mobiliser of Alito Joint Farmers’ Multipurpose Cooperative Society in Kole district said farmers need a bank that can improve farmers’ livelihoods by offering cheap credit.

“Farmers need banks that provide cheap loans to boost their farming activities,” Okwang said, adding that farmers in the country are like patients who seek treatment from expensive clinics.

Bonny Omara a resident of Ogor Sub-county in Otuke district said seasons have become unpredictable to the extent that farmers have had to incur losses due to prolonged drought and that cheap loans are need for the acquisition of irrigation equipment.

Meanwhile government this week announced that discussions and preparations are underway to establish the Cooperative Bank whose assets were taken over in 1999 by the Bank of Uganda [BoU] which later sold them.

BoU which supervises commercial banks in the country has failed to present the report of the liquidated assets of the bank to parliament despite numerous calls.

According to the Auditor General’s report on BoU’s closure of Banks, Nile River Acquisition Company Limited offered to buy the loan portfolio of three banks; International Credit Bank Limited, Greenland Bank, and The Cooperative Bank at US$ 10 million.

The total loan portfolio of the bank was worth Shs 135 billion, and included Shs 34bln worth of secured loans. In his report, the Auditor General questions BoU’s decision to sell secured loans to Nile River Acquisition Company.

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