Cooperatives Europe to hold conference in Cardiff

LONDON-On November 21 and 22, 2022, Cooperatives Europe is organising the “Young people and the future of cooperatives in Europe” conference in Cardiff. European delegates will gather for a conference exploring the role of young people in the cooperative movement toward the future.

At the same time, the conference will be an opportunity to discuss with members from across the region the strategy of the European cooperative movement to tackle pressing challenges that will impact the future of the movement.

According to the organisers, youth participants will be at the center, give new impulse to the Young European Cooperators Network, and co-decide the path forward. “The event will present a unique opportunity to build ever-lasting Europe-wide relations with peers.”

Why youth involvement?

Cooperatives Europe has supported the European Young Cooperators Network since 2015 and helped the organization of numerous youth events over the past years.

With this event, Cooperatives Europe wants to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people, advance democratic cooperative practices that centre the interests of young people, and strengthen intergenerational collaboration.

This is the reason why the event is an important occasion to engage young cooperators to become frontrunners of the movement. “They will be able to connect and work with their peers from across Europe. At the same time, they will have a chance to follow inspirational presentations of cooperative leaders and go into dialogue during the panel sessions and meetings. In the evenings they will be able to enjoy networking with peers at dinner and drinks.”

“The aim of this conference is to think how our movement can be revitalised in a very practical way. Attendees will co-decide, collaborate, and think about new approaches to kickstart the network and equip it for a challenging decade,” organisers say.

Meanwhile, Coop Netherlands is committed to providing its stores with fresh meat – from chicken fillet to beef – that will have at least one star of the Beter Leven quality mark. This means that the animals have more living space and they are free to exercise their natural behavior during their lives.

The cooperative retailer expresses the ambition to make the chain more sustainable by no longer selling fresh meat without the Animal Protection label by mid-2023.

Coop Netherlands has been working hard for years to make its range more sustainable and, together with suppliers, it continuously invests in expanding the selection of sustainable products that are made paying particular attention to animal welfare and the environment.

Jasper de Jong, head of Category Management at Coop Netherlands said: “Our next step is to sell meat with at least one star of the Beter Leven quality mark. As a cooperative supermarket organisation, we are aware of our role in making the meat sector in the Netherlands more sustainable. In our philosophy, one star of the Beter Leven quality mark is really the lower limit for the complete meat selection. Where possible, we even aim for two or three stars. We are both excited and proud to express this ambition and work towards achieving this goal by 2023. Together with our customers, suppliers, and Dutch farmers, we’ll make a difference for animal welfare!”

Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier, said, “We like to see that all meat carries a quality mark and we think it’s fantastic that Coop stores share this ambition. That’s good news for the animals and for consumers.”

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Gov’t extends Shs 235bln Atiak-Laropi road contract

ADJUMANI. The construction of the 66-kilometres Atiak-Laropi road will now be completed by September 30, 2023, after the contractor was given more 18 months to complete the project.

Construction company, STRABAG has been undertaking the construction works for the Euro 53.8 million [Shs 235 billion] road. The project is part of the bigger Development Initiative for Northern Uganda [DINU] programme funded by the European Union [EU].

The three-year contract for the construction of the road began in 2020 and is due to expire in December 2022. STRABAG’s request for an extension by Government has been granted until September next year.

According to Eng. Safet Keco, the programme manager of STRABAG, the completion rate of the work stood at 65.36 percent at the end of October 2022. We may finish the remaining work before the new deadline,” Keco said.

He said that they have completed 62kms of the road, adding that it will take them only eight weeks to finish laying culverts for bridges.

Eng. Bernard Ocan, the road project’s consultant said the streetlights from Atiak Dzaipi to Pakele would be completed by end of February 2023.

The Uganda National Roads Authority [UNRA] area manager Moyo, Julius Mwesigwa has confirmed that STRABAG had been added 18 months to finish its road construction contract.

Mwesigwa said the road would be upgraded from gravel to class II bitumen standard with a carriageway width of seven metres.

A cross-section of the road users in Adjumani district have expressed worries saying the pace at which the work is progressing is very slow. Lindrio Catherine, a resident of Pakele town council where the road passes urged both the contractor and government to speed up the work.

The Moyo district LCV chairman, William Anyama who also doubles as the chairman of West Nile Development Agenda, said the region faces the challenge of a lack of good roads.

He said Atiak – Laropi road is part of the Atiak – Moyo – South Sudan border road which is a regional, national and international route connecting the remote North-Western regions of Uganda and South Sudan.

“We need this road completed, but we did not its quality to be compromised. The road is not for the people of west Nile only but it is an international road,” Anyama said.

Anyama said the road project would contribute towards improving road transportation and trade facilitation along the corridor thus improving transport services and agricultural productivity by connecting remote and disadvantaged districts to the main road network.

The project road traverses through Amuru and Adjumani districts along the Atiak – Moyo – South Sudan border. It runs in a North-westerly direction traversing through the trading centers of Dzaipi, Pakelle, and Adjumani town, and ends at Umi at the Ferry landing site on River Nile.

In November 2020, a dispute ensued between Utukulu Company Limited and STRABAG over ownership of a quarry site whose construction material would be used in constructing the road, hence delaying the project.

The dispute arose when Utukulu claimed it owned the rocks located at Ujigo and that it had secured an exploration license. They then made an exorbitant demand to STRABAG if they were interested but STRABAG declined and instead petitioned the chief administrative officer, Adjumani district.

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JCRC donates medicines to Apac hospital

APAC-The Joint Clinical Research Centre [JCRC], in partnership with Direct Relief from United States of America has donated essential medicines worth Shs 167 million to Apac district hospital.

The medicines include ringers lactate, dextrose, oral rehydration solutions, monofilament polypropylene, cephalexin capsules, amoxicillin, and penicillin among others.

It was handed over by Dr. Mary Namubiro an official from JCRC to the district secretary for education and health, Sam Opira on Wednesday.

The assorted medicines supplies, according to Opira, will complement supplies of the Government`s National Medical stores [NMS].

The district has 16 health facilities but faced challenges of drug stockouts, late supplies from NMS, and lack of essential medicines.

“The donation is a big boost to us and complements supplies from NMS in helping our people,” Opira said.

He added that the population of the district is growing visa viz the challenge of inadequate government medicines and other medical supplies.

“We are quite happy for the partnership by JCRC and Direct Relief from the United State of America,” he added.

According to the statement released by JCRC, they pledged continued contribution towards commodity supply to the district.

Many health facilities in Lango Sub-region face challenges of inadequate health workers, drugs and supplies stockouts, shortage of staff accommodation, dilapidated structures among others.

The sub-region comprises nine districts of Lira, Alebtong, Otuke, Amolatar, Kole, Kwania, Oyam, Dokolo, and Apac.

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Lira cooperative society asks gov’t to establish irrigation schemes

LIRA-Miromi Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Agali Sub-county Lira district wants government to establish sources of water, especially irrigation schemes for agricultural production in the country.

A report conducted by Uganda Farmers Common Voice platform indicates that although Uganda is endowed with water resources, most farmers in the country rely on rain-fed agriculture. This is mainly due to limited access to irrigation based water sources such as irrigation schemes.

The Limited access to water for production, especially for smallholder farmers, according to the report authored by Professor Moses Tenywa of Makerere University, is attributed to poor legal framework in the country.

Now, the cooperative wants government to support them with an irrigation scheme in order to help them produce more food and sell during the dry season, noting that some places have irrigation schemes and are doing well.

The Cooperative established in 2016 and located at Acanroma village, Okile parish in Amac Sub-county deals in onion and tomato production during the dry season.

Nixson Ogwang, the chairman of the cooperative society wants the government to support them with irrigation equipment to boost their production, adding that government needs to come up with a policy on water for agricultural production.

According to him, this would encourage participation of the private sector in solving some of the challenges hindering small-scale farmers to have irrigation schemes that keep farmers busy throughout the year.

“The current technologies on the markets are very Miromi Farmers’ Cooperative Society expensive to ordinary farmers like us but through private-public Partnerships, the government can subsidise the costs and attract the private sector to avail the technologies to farmers at cheaper prices,” he said.

Donald Denis Opio, the Chairperson of Can-Onoto-Waa Youth Farmers’ Group which is also under Miromi Farmers’ Cooperative Society said they always realise about Shs 20 million after a sale of only one acre of tomatoes during the dry season venture.

He added that part of the money got from the project is shared among the individual youths who are engaged in tomato farming.

Lillian Edonga, a member of the Cooperative, said money from onion project has enabled her to build a permanent house. She equally asked for government support of the irrigation system so that they are able to produce onions and other vegetables during the dry season when farmers are not able to engage in farming due to drought.

Another farmer Ellen Akello said they are now targeting producing tomato and onions on a large scale for export. Akello called upon the government to support them with irrigation so that they are able to create employment by themselves through farming and boots household income.

Erute South Member of Parliament Jonathan Odur in an interview with theCooperator commended the members of the cooperative for engaging in farming during this dry season and pledged to make follow up with the government.

“As leaders we shall ensure that money is available in the subsequent financial years to support farmers to access water for production. Without fighting for the farmers, Uganda will be food insecure since rain-fed agriculture cannot sustain food production in the country,” he said.

Uganda has enormous freshwater endowments covering about 15 percent of the total areas of the country, thus providing great production for increased opportunities for increased agricultural production and productivity, water for production is estimated to account for 60-70 percent of the total national water requirements according to reports.

However, only 2 percent of the water is utilised for production with 1 percent used in irrigation compared to the 70 percent of water used for irrigation worldwide.

Experts say that low utilisation of water for production has contributed to a decline in agricultural productivity, mostly for smallholder farmers who dominate the agricultural sector in Uganda and mainly depend on rain-fed agriculture.

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ANT on campaign to empower youth with entrepreneurial skills

SOROTI-The Alliance for National Transformation [ ANT ] has embarked on training the youth to acquire entrepreneurial skills.

While speaking to the youth at Asegra Hotel in Oderai ward, Soroti City former ANT President, Gregory Mugisha Muntu said they are training youth so that they can become better business leaders.

Muntu noted that once youth establish small businesses they can develop, adding that this, in turn, grows the economy and creates demand for goods and services.

“A disciplined team of leaders can grow an economy,” Muntu mentioned.

He also added that building self-reliant leaders in terms of income generation do not pose threats on service delivery since they can adequately provide for themselves.

“Self-reliant leaders change the culture of going into politics because of money,” Muntu said.

He advised the youth to be focused and determined in order to transform the region.

Moses Odilit, the ANT sub-regional coordinator for Teso, appreciated the efforts of the party saying youth in Teso will be transformed if only they can follow the party’s ideology.

He encouraged the youth to embrace the initiative saying it is the only way they can fight poverty in the country.

According to Florence Atyang, a resident of Kapelebyang district and one of the youth who attended the training said once the youth can embrace development initiatives, they could be transformed.

Jorem Auta, another youth from Ngora said that the high level of poverty is too high but the youth can only change that by concentrating on rebuilding the country.

Over 50 youth selected from the 10 districts of Teso, including Soroti City attended the training in entrepreneurship.

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AfDB predicts economic slowdown in E. Africa in 2022

KAMPALA-The African Development Bank [AfDB] has released its latest East African Economic Outlook, predicting a slow recovery in the region in 2022 at 4.0 percent against 5.1 percent in 2021.

The slowdown is due to the lingering effects of COVID-19; the adverse impacts of geopolitical tensions, notably the Russia-Ukraine conflict; climate change and devastating locust invasion, together with regional conflicts and tensions.

The report notes that because of these obstacles, countries in the region have experienced heightened inflationary pressures, particularly on food and fuel, leading to rising cost of living. This has resulted in weakening national currencies, floods and drought, contraction in agricultural production; depressed business activity, and falling revenue collection, among others.

However, the continued reopening of economies globally could mitigate these adverse effects in 2023 with a projected growth rate of 4.7 percent, repositioning East Africa as the top-performer in growth among the regions of the continent, according to the report.

The report, themed “Supporting Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition”, was launched on 28 October 2022.

In developing the 2022 East Africa Economic Outlook, AfDB critically studied various factors affecting growth in the 13 countries which constitute the East African region. The vulnerability of the region to the impact of climate change effects such as drought and flooding, could further hold back the region’s fragile recovery.

Speaking at the launch, Tanzania’s Finance Minister, Dr. Mwigulu Lameck Nchemba, said that the report was timely, considering the current cost of living which is of concern to every citizen in the region. Disruption of the regional supply chains, public debt, and the public discussions on the need for pro-poor spending policies were dominating debate, Mwigulu said.

He noted: “Despite the ramp up in infrastructure investments, more needs to be done to accelerate the development of sustainable infrastructure, including renewable energy to support industrialization and catalyze inclusive growth.” He called for mobilization of additional resources to expanded energy access, observing that the Democratic Republic of Congo was endowed with immense renewable energy resources to light up the entire continent.”

The Bank’s Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo, said the vulnerability of the East African region to the impact of climate change effects such as drought and flooding, could further hold back the region’s fragile recovery. “This calls for urgent policy measures to build macroeconomic resilience including through diversifying economies to withstand shocks.”

Emmanuel Pinto-Moreira, Director of Country Economics Department at the Bank highlighted the key development challenges facing the continent, notably, high inflation, rising inflation, and climate change. He underscored the need to deepen domestic resources mobilization to finance social safety nets for the most vulnerable and climate resilient infrastructure.

Although fragile, the economic recovery is projected to be sustained in medium term in East Africa thanks to the rebound of service and industrial activities, increased public spending, reopening of travel and trade due to uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, recovery of tourism sector, deeper regional ties under the East Africa Community, and supportive macroeconomic policies, noted Marcellin Ndong Ntah, Lead Economist at the Bank.

Ndong-Ntah said that increased debt service costs, depreciating domestic currencies macroeconomic imbalances, a prolonged Russia-Ukraine conflict, widening income inequality, political instability and vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters are key domestic and external downside risks affecting the region’s medium-term economic outlook.

Dr Rose Ngugi, Executive Director of Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis [KIPPRA] encouraged countries of the region to intensify their efforts to increase their annual growth rate at a least 7 percent, the minimum rate required to ensure the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]. To this end, countries should achieve internal and external macroeconomic stability, she said.

Reflecting on the theme of the report – climate resilience- Edward Sennoga, Lead Economist at the Bank, noted that East Africa has the second lowest resilience to climate change in Africa, with most countries in the region also characterized by high vulnerability and low readiness to respond to climate change. He said there was the urgent need for innovative financing approaches to bridge the huge gap in climate change financing.

According to the report, the climate financing gap for East Africa is estimated at an average of about US$ 60 billion per year for the period 2020-2030. The report cites Public -Private partnerships, Green Bonds, partial risk and partial credit guarantees, carbon offsets, and regional energy trade as some of the measures that can provide alternative financing for climate change.

Teddy Mugabo, CEO Rwanda Green Fund echoed this perspective by stressing on need for innovative financing instruments and the effective use of carbon market.

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Agago macadamia farmers receive 30,000 seedlings

AGAGO– Government through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal husbandry and Fisheries [MAAIF] committed it will distribute 30,000 macadamia seedlings to farmers in Agago district.

Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, the Minister of State for Agriculture was speaking recently in Agago district where he said government would be distributing seedlings of macadamia to the farmers in the area annually.

The minister said the seedlings were procured under the National Agricultural Advisory Development Services [NAADs] and will be given to farmers in the entire Acholi Sub-region, though much emphasis has been put on Agago district.

He said that the government would also train extension staff on the macadamia value chain as well as provide market information so that farmers earn income by selling their produce.

In May this year, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, mobilised 525 farmers in Agago district to join commercial macadamia farming under the Make Acholi Green Again Initiative.

The Executive Director NAADS Dr. Samuel Mugasi said the region needs to have a perennial crop as a fall-back for the smallholder farmers.

Speaking to farmers, Dr. Mugasi said the Acholi Sub-region has the potential to grow macadamia but also other crops like hass avocado and cashew nuts.

Justice Owiny Dollo said the government intervention is very much needed saying several farmers who are interested in joining commercial macadamia farming struggled to procure the seedlings.

Dollo said that currently, the commercial supply of macadamia in Uganda is still low, adding that the more people engage in growing the fruit trees, the more money they can earn.

Macadamia is a tree that grows well on fertile, well-drained upland soils with an annual rainfall of between 1,000–2,000mm and optimum temperatures of 25 °C and not falling below 10 °C.

Macadamia starts bearing fruits at three years producing approximately between 7 and 10 kilograms per tree, but when it reaches the maturity stage of between 7–10 years, the tree yields between 50 and 60 kilogrammes of quality nuts and it continues to bear fruits for over 100 years.

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‘Christ for You Ministry’ donates to PWD SACCO Karuma

KIRYANDONGO – Members of Persons with Disability SACCO Karuma in Karuma town council, Kiryandongo district on Tuesday received relief items from a group of wedded couples in the area dubbed ‘Christ for You Ministry’.

The SACCO with 718 members received items consisting of 20 boxes of soap, 50 kilogrammes [kgs] of salt, 30 kgs of sugar and a cash donation of Shs 7.18 million to support their activities.

Alpha Oketa, the Chairperson of ‘Christ for You Ministry’ says the donation of the relief items was purely a corporate social responsibility done annually by the wedded couples to support the vulnerable people in the community.

“Every year, ‘Christ for You Ministry’ organises marriage retreats where wedded couples contribute household items to support people with special needs in the community. Under this arrangement, we have so far reached out to over 2,000 needy people in the community,” he said.

“This is an opportunity to focus on evangelisation to the most vulnerable in the community. Supporting the needy is spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. I encourage others to do the same,” he added.

Judith Amal, the chairperson of the SACCO described the support as timely.

“The support has indeed come at the right time when several members of this SACCO are battling famine. Many are coming for loans and others want to withdraw their savings. The items will be given to each member and the money shared among the members but I have told them to save part of the money to grow their savings,” he told this reporter.

Rosolin Angom, a member of the SACCO said, “I am extremely grateful to leaders of ‘Christ for You Ministry’. I am excited that I have received Shs.100, 000 and household items. I ask them to do the same to others.”

Another member Selestino Odongo, who has hearing impairment, said the donation has given him much hope. Odongo plans to save part of the money and use the balance to support his family.

Persons with Disability SACCO Karuma which started in 2015 with 47 members currently has a loan portfolio of Shs 120mln.

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CIDI injects shs40mln in Soroti cooperatives

SOROTI-In a move to boost effective bulk production, value addition, and collective marketing, Community Integrated Initiative Development [ CIDI ] has provided Shs 40 million as seed capital for five farmers’ cooperatives in Soroti district.

The beneficiary cooperatives include Ojom Oculoi Olwelai Joint Farmers’ Cooperative Society [OJOFACOS], Amukaru Aloet Joint Farmers’ Cooperative Society [AJAFACOS], and Amoru Amoroto Multipurpose Cooperative Ltd [AAMCOS].

Others are Asurent Community Farmers’ Cooperative Society [ACFUCOS] and Awaasi Tubur Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd [ATUMCOS].

According to the allocation, OJOFACOS received Shs11mln, AJAFACOS Shs 6mln, and AAMCOS Shs11mln. ACFUCOS and ATUMCOS received Shs 6mln each.

Samuel Lukanga Musisi, the CIDI Soroti office team leader said the funding is under The Soroti Integrated Development Project [SIDP] funded by Caritas Denmark with the aim of strengthening the capacity of farmer organisations [primary cooperatives] and youth associations.

SIDP is currently being implemented in the five sub-counties of Asuret, Tubur, Gweri, Arapai and Katine.

Lukanga, explained that the funds were allocated to the beneficiaries [Cooperatives] based on an independent detailed individual farmer cooperative assessment in terms of available financial controls and management systems, as well as their previous financial record, performance, and experience.

“The support is further based on the experiences and lessons learned of the seed capital fund that was previously provided to the same 5 farmer organization in the years 2016-2017, under the same project,” said Lukanga.

According to Lukanga, the support is meant to enable farmers’ cooperatives to undertake effective bulk production, value addition, and collective marketing as well as lobbying and advocacy.

“As revealed in the UGOPAP [Uganda Governance and Poverty Alleviation] Comprehensive Indicator Assessment Report [2021], by GB Consult, a very small number of farmer cooperatives were accessing crop financing from the banks, and other credit institutions. The majority of the cooperatives [90 percent] were relying on their own financing,” stated Lukanga.

This, he said has left a very big gap in terms of supporting farmer cooperative businesses because the members have limited funding to contribute to their cooperatives in form of share capital for undertaking collective marketing business.

Lukanga decried the absence of a cooperative bank that would provide credit facilities to cooperatives at favorable rates which escalates the situation.

“All the current five-farmer cooperatives of CIDI Soroti are virtually left to compete for loan facilities from commercial banks yet they come with high interest rates,” he said.

Lukanga said that it is against this background that CIDI through SIDP decided to extend financial support to the five beneficiary cooperatives.

Anna Sofia Asingo, the CIDI field officer added the support is intended to enable the five cooperatives to scale up businesses for member farmers dealing in maize, sorghum groundnuts, simsim, green gram, and finger millet among others.

“We want to build linkages where we have an alliance of agricultural businesses working with the farmers’ cooperatives, civil society organisations, funding agencies, and research institutions,” she said, adding that part of the activities will involve addressing the issue of farm inputs and post-harvest handling.

Samuel Lukanga Musisis CIDI Soroti team leader addressing the leaders of beneficiary cooperatives (Alexander Okori).

Hellen Mary Akiror, the treasurer AJAFACOS located in Arapai Sub-county applauded CIDI for the support.

This support of seed capital to our Cooperative has come at a time we have been struggling to carry out bulk marketing due to financial constraints she said.

Akiror said with the seed capital, they would be able to carry out bulk marketing of produce, which will in turn improve their livelihoods economically.

Meanwhile, Jessica Omodo, the CIDI monitoring, and evaluation/advocacy officer warned the beneficiaries against misuse of the funds to avoid being arrested.

She said they trained the cooperative members in the management of the funds received.

Omodo noted that if the money given to these Saccos is effectively used, they are ready to support them with more funding.

On the other hand, the Soroti district commercial officer, Joy Christine Apolot who handed over the cheques to the cooperatives tipped them on record keeping.

She explained that cooperatives need a good system to manage their records.

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Lira City seeks Shs 300mln for streetlights

LIRA-Lira City Council is seeking Shs 300 million to fix faulty streetlights installed two years ago under Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructures Development [USMID] programme funded by the World Bank.

Most of the solar-powered streetlights that require repair, according to officials, are installed along Obote Avenue, Oyam road, Soroti road, Aroma Lane, and Oyite Ojok Lane among others.

Under the USMID programme 292 solar panels were installed on tarmacked roads but 160 are now non-functional, posing security threats in some parts of the city during the night.

The chairperson, finance, planning, investment, and administration committee, Julius Peter Ocari said Lira City has a population of over 500,000 who need lit streets.

“The risk of traveling at night in Lira City is enormous, which means we must install streets with lights.”

Ocari appealed to development partners and the government to help fix the problem, saying that batteries installed in the solar systems have surpassed their lifespan.

Abert Apita, the city secretary for works and technical services said most of the darkest areas in the city have become hideouts for the criminals who attack city dwellers.

He said the government recently allocated only Shs 30mln under Road Fund to fix lights and rehabilitate roads in the city.

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