Farmers under their umbrella Ruhunga Tweyambe Maize Growers’ Cooperative Society in Kikuube district have a reason to smile after they received value addition processing facilities worth over sh150m.
The society was supported with sh150 million by the Government, through the Matching Grant Facility under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) to construct processing facilities.
Under this project, the society established a house processing facility and equipped it with two maize milling machines.
Bernard Nuwamanya, the chairperson of the association, commended the Government for the support, adding that farmers have started utilising the facility.
He added that the facility is expected to benefit farmers from Kyankwanzi, Kakuumiro and Kikuube districts.
Nuwamanya said the cooperative society started as Banyankole Tweyambe Association in 2013 and now has 64 members with the saving of sh8m.
He added that they are happy the association has produced a cooperative, which is helping the farmers to benefit from government projects.
However, Nuwamanya said society members are still using manual tools such as hoes due to the lack of a tractor and appealed to district leaders to lobby for agro-machinery to be able to engage in commercial production.
He added that inadequate power is also a challenge for the facility adding their transformer has a low capacity of 50kV compared to the demand of about 300kV to run the two machines at the facility.
While commissioning the facility on October 7, 2022, on the behalf of Kikuube district chairperson Peter Banura, a district councillor for works and secretary for production, market and natural resources Nicolas Kiiza promised that the society is going to get a tractor in the second phase of ACDP.
He also advised the members of the society to write to the district production department and get a way of lobbying for electricity.
However, he called the farmers to embrace value-addition mechanisms to be able to benefit from agriculture.
He noted that the government, through ACDP, supported five cooperative societies in the district to establish processing facilities to facilitate the value-addition chain and underscored a need for the farmer to utilise the facilities and stop selling their produce as grains.
He was optimistic that when farmers join these farmer’s groups and embrace the value addition mechanism, they will be able to sell their agricultural produce at a good price.
Kikuube district assistant commercial officer John Aliguma urged the leadership to mobilise more farmers to join the society.
He added that the members of the society are still few yet co-operatives survive on membership numbers because co-operatives are member-owned, controlled and financed.
Aliguma challenged members of the society to own the facility adding that sustainability of projects established by the government has always been difficult due to the lack of ownership by the community.
He also advised the leaders of the society that they should always scrutinize their members before offering a loan to avoid defaulters. He says that several societies and SACCOS have collapsed due to poor recovery of the loans.
Buhimba LC3 chairperson Isingoma Justus challenged the leadership of the cooperative to be transparent and accountable as they manage the society.
He noted that the Buhimba had over three SACCOS and societies with processing facilities, but they collapsed due to bad management.
During the function, the cooperative society was given a two-year certificate of registration.