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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