Lira, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Poor management and proliferation of counterfeit seeds in the market have been sighted as the major challenges affecting the operations of farmer’s cooperative unions in the Lango sub-region. The issues came up during a meeting organized by the National Alliance of Agriculture Cooperatives (NAAC) in Uganda held in Lira city on Monday.
During the meeting, the farmers highlighted the issue of counterfeit seeds as the major challenge affecting their operations. They also sighted managerial weaknesses characterized by insights, greed, and lack of government support to unions as the other challenges affecting their operations.
Denis Ogwok, the Secretary Manager for Wiodyek Oil Seed Farmers’ Area Cooperative Enterprise argued that the problem of counterfeit seeds must be addressed if the cooperatives are to develop and maximize profits.
Paskweli Ocen, the General Secretary of Wiodyek Oil Seed Farmers’ Cooperative said cooperatives lack the required machines needed for farm mechanization which boosts production.
Badru Anthony Ocen, the General Manager of Nyekorac Community Framer’s Cooperative Society based in Ogur sub-county believes that cooperatives in Lango are too weak to operate on their own, a reason why their capacity has to be built.
Ambrose Asingizibwe, the advocacy manager at NAAC in Uganda believes that most cooperatives are not developing because of greed and selfish interest, and mistrust among its leadership.
He called upon the government to intervene by offering financial support to the farmers’ institutions saying they also contribute revenue.
At the end of the meeting, NAAC formed a nine-member committee comprising politicians, district technical staff, youth leaders, and members of the fourth estate who will be offering managerial support to the leadership of the cooperatives as well as use their different platforms to advocate for the betterment of the cooperatives. Asingizibwe explains that through the committee, farmers’ capacity to demand services from their cooperatives and government will be enhanced through training.
“As NAAC we do a facilitative role because we believe that farmers have the capacity to cause change for their own benefits that is why as NAAC we shall train this committee (In February) with people who have experience in management and governance so that they know how to go deeper and train their own cooperatives and associations on how to manage their associations.”
But Ogwok is skeptical about the committee saying a number of such committees have been formed before but they have always failed to address the challenges on the ground.
Whereas Ocen from Wiodyek Oil Seed Farmers’ Cooperative enterprise believes that the newly formed committee’s guidance coupled with financial assistance from NAAC will help the cooperatives to further develop and serve the farmers better.
The sub-region has over 22 cooperatives and a number of large-scale farmers whose operations have not yielded many fruits.