Farmers in Kabarole district are forming groups to increase food production and improve household income.
Following the collapse of cooperatives in the 1990s, several farmers’ groups have been formed, where farmers work collectively to find market for their produce. Some of the farmers’ groups include those of maize, coffee, rice and bananas.
In Kasenda Sub County, Iruhura Maize Farmers Group was formed three years ago to help the farmers access market for their produce.
Moses Isingoma, the chairperson says that before the association was formed, individual farmers were facing difficulties selling their produce and were often cheated by the middle men.
Isingoma says that following the formation of the group, the farmers now sell their produce collectively and at a higher price.
He states that since there are more than fifty members in the group, the group has managed to secure loans from banks, which has enabled them purchase agricultural inputs and a maize milling machine, to increase production.
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In Nyabukara village, Fort Portal municipality, banana farmers took advantage of the high demand for the product and formed a group of seventy farmers.
William Mujungu, the chairperson says that they sell more than 300 bunches everyday to traders from Kampala. He also says that the farmers are no longer cheated as it was in the past, when they were selling individually.
He however calls for the revival of cooperatives, because they were the lifeline of Ugandan farmers.
Mujungu says that in the past the Ruwenzori region had vibrant cooperatives which included Bwamba Cooperative Union in Bundibugyo district for cocoa farmers, Kabarole Cooperative Union for coffee and Nyakatonzi in Kasese for cotton and coffee.
He says that apart from the economic gains, the cooperatives were also social gatherings, where farmers used to meet and exchange ideas.
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Peter Musinguzi, the monitoring and evaluation officer Kabarole district farmers association, says that the existence of farmers groups has enabled the association to collectively train farmers in post-harvest handling and accessing markets.
Amos Mugume, the Kabarole district production coordinator, says that the department has started a campaign to encourage farmers join groups and sell their products collectively.
Today Uganda joined the rest of the world to mark World Food Day under the theme: “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world”.
The theme was chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives and farmers’ groups in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger.