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East Acholi Cooperative Union Struggles To Revive Primary Societies

Henry Komakech, the EACU Secretary Manager told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the collapse of the 108 primary societies under the union has affected the productivity of farmers because it is hard to impart good farming practices to individual farmers.
27 Jan 2022 12:39

Audio 6

East Acholi Cooperative Union Limited-EACU is struggling to revive primary cooperative societies that collapsed decades ago. EACU, which covers Kitgum, Lamwo, Agago, and Pader districts, was established in 1951 as an agricultural cooperative to work with 108 primary societies.  

But like many other unions across the country, the primary societies became inactive due to a number of challenges, key among them political instability. However, in 2019, the union embarked on efforts to restore all primary cooperative societies.    

Henry Komakech, the EACU Secretary Manager told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that the collapse of the 108 primary societies under the union has affected the productivity of farmers because it is hard to impart good farming practices to individual farmers. 

He says that most cotton farmers for instance get as low as 300 kilograms of cotton, yet the standard quantity should be between 700-1,000 kilograms an acre.  

  

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Komakech says besides poor yields, farmers are being cheated by buyers who go direct to farms and buy produce cheaply, sometimes using uncalibrated weighing scales. 

He says if farmers were organized in societies as years back, they would bulk in one place and sell in common for better prices.  

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Komakech reveals that so far, they have started the revival of 56 primary societies. He however says their attempt to revive the cooperatives was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which did not allow them to have meetings.  

 

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Faustino Okello, the chairperson of Labongo Tobacco Growers, which was started in early 1967 and used to sell their tobacco as a group, says that they would get bonuses. 

Okello however says that since 1984, middlemen started buying tobacco from farmers directly, adding that ten years later, the members, who were about 300 stopped paying subscription fees.  

Now the cooperative has about 100 members, but all still sell their harvest individually.  

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Morris Atwom, the commercial officer of Kitgum district, says that much as the revival of the primary cooperative societies has started, they have not done a lot for them to perform optimally, due to the lockdown.    

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Atwom believes that reviving the primary societies with strengthening EACU. He says in 2021, the district, in partnership with GIZ, started strengthening the institution’s governance structure, for it to operate better.  

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To be considered active, a primary cooperative society must be registered, all members must have paid subscription fees, attend all their meetings and implement their resolutions.