MASINDI – In the western district of Masindi, 15 cooperatives and two associations dealing in maize grain production have learned new lobbying and marketing skills as well as advocacy during a one-day training organized by the Grain Council of Uganda.
“We are targeting cooperatives and associations engaged in maize growing because when you are in a cooperative it’s easy to get a market. We are also helping them to learn how to negotiate for better prices and also to bulk through skilling them with lobbying and marketing skills. For us as Grain Council of Uganda, we believe in cooperatives and what we want most is to meet the requirement of quality and quantity,” Humphrey Mutaasa, the head of partnerships at Grain Council of Uganda, said at Country Inn hotel, venue of the May 26 training.
The participating associations included; Masindi District Farmers Association (MADFA) and Hoima District Farmers Association (HODFA). All cooperatives were drawn from Masindi District.
They were also trained in how to produce quality maize, which attracts buyers.
Mutaasa also said that Grain Council of Uganda will partner with cooperatives dealing in maize grain production to address their market challenges.
“We are also maize buyers that’s why we are training them to produce big quantities and of good quality. We are going start buying their maize. We are going to sign supplier agreements with them,” Mutaasa added.
A week ago, he said, the council signed a memorandum of understanding with Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom to mobilize farmers in different cooperatives in the eight districts of Bunyoro.
Mutaasa noted that they offered lessons on policy lobbying and advocacy because there are farmers and cooperatives’ leaders who don’t know those concepts yet they are crucial to their business.
Emphasizing the need for farmers’ participation in policy making, Mutaasa told cooperative members that they need to have a farmers’ representative in parliament who will ensure that policies passed favor farmers.
“We need a representative who will be speaking the language of farmers. If the elders, youth, women, persons with disabilities have representatives in parliament, why not the farming sector, which employs more than 80% of Ugandans? We need someone who can articulate things about farming but not these people who speak from an uninformed point of view,” said Mutaasa.
He noted that people in authority should stop playing games with agriculture.
“There are certain things, which need policy change that’s why we need a representative in parliament. We need people who will be giving us seeds, which will germinate. We are suffering because we have no one to speak for agriculture in parliament. How can an organization like NAADS supply seeds, which cannot germinate?” he asked.
Joseph Bogere from Kiruli Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Kiruli Sub County hailed Grain Council for training them. He said they will now be able to mobilize market for their products.
“I also welcome the idea of having a representative in parliament. This was like an awakening call for us leaders of cooperatives,” he said.
Judith Kabahunge of Labongo Grain Producers Cooperatives in Labongo sub county, said they are now encouraged to grow more maize since they are assured of the market.
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