Farmers under Kigezi Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative Limited are accusing their leadership of maladministration and exploitation. Kigezi Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative was started in 1969 to help dairy farmers to market their milk at better prices and provide them services to boost their production capacity. However, the farmers say that they have lost hope in the cooperative because of maladministration and greed amongst the top leadership.
They claim that some of the leaders are serving their personal interest at the expense of the farmers. They cite the delayed payment for their milk, failure to hold annual general meeting, provision of artificial insemination services for their animals and deductions from their savings without their authorization. Felix Twahirwa, a dairy farmer from Bubaare Sub County says the cooperative has become useless to farmers since it has failed to deliver to their expectation.
He says that association leadership is only interested in gathering loans on behalf of the members but use the money for individual benefit. Twahirwa alleges that Kigezi Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative received 200 million shillings from the Uganda Microfinance Support Centre under the pretext of helping farmers but the money was has since been used by a few farmers.
Diamond Musinga, another farmer says that the cooperative is faced with a lot of challenges which has forced some of them to start alternative market for their milk to get better prices instead of taking it to the collection centers. He says that the cooperative sells a liter of milk at shillings 800 but the farmers only receive between 450-500 shillings a liter. Musinga is now calling for proper auditing of the cooperative accounts.
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Moses Tirwomwe, another farmer from Buhara Sub County says that he is frustrated with the day-to-day running of the cooperative as there is no benefit to the members. He says that the situation has worsened by the deliberate failure of the administration to hold general meetings where their problems can be addressed. Felix Byarugaba, the treasurer Kigezi Diary Cooperative limited has allayed the fears of the farmers saying most of the farmers have not bothered to find out the real truth and only resorted to rumors.
John Mutabazi, the Manager Kigezi Diary cooperative limited admits the cooperative received a loan of shillings 200 million from the Microfinance support Centre but denies the money was only given to a few individuals. He explains that after receiving the money they asked all farmers to apply and those who met the requirements of the finance committee were considered. On the delay to pay the farmers, Mutabazi said that problem is caused by the failure by some farmers to service their loans in time.
He says that they have already sent out letter inviting members for a general assembly on July 20, 2012 to address their concerns. Chris Gakibayo, the Kabale district Commercial officer says that he has had heard rumors about the problems in the cooperative but says that he has not received any formal complaint. He however says that he will meet the members during their AGM to have some of the issues addressed.