NAKASEKE. The leaders from the West Nile region have joined their farmers in calling upon the government to consider reviving the defunct cooperative unions in the area.

The leaders including Ministers hailing from West Nile, Members of Parliament (MPs), district chairpersons, resident district commissioners, and chief administrative officers among others accompanied the farmers who are mainly affiliated to five different cooperative unions in West Nile to raise the concern on Tuesday.

The appeal to revive the cooperatives was made through Gen. Salim Saleh, the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) at Kapeeka Industrial park in Nakaseeke district.

According to the officials, the cooperatives that urgently need revival include; the West Nile Cooperative Union, formerly a tobacco union now transiting to simsim, sorghum and soya beans growing with the help of Agri-Gloveg, a local company promoting commercial agriculture.

Others are; the Central West Nile Cooperative Union, the Okoro coffee growers’ cooperative union, the Madi cooperative union which is known for cotton growing and South West Nile cooperative union.

During the meeting, Mr James Baba, the Koboko County MP asked Gen. Saleh to give a head-start to the call to revive the said cooperative unions by compensating them.

Mr James Baba 15 10 19Mr James Baba made a passionate appeal for the revival of cooperatives.

“Most of these cooperatives lost their property including houses, tractors and many other things during the 1979 war. Given your history and influence, we are now asking you to give us the head-start to the revival of these cooperatives by compensating them,” Baba said.

“Today, everybody from West Nile knows that we are in Kapeeka for the revival of their cooperatives and that is why, we are asking you not to let us down in this call,” Baba added.

He said even if the financial aspect of it doesn’t come now, the government should at least think of buying tractors and some farm inputs for the cooperatives to start with.

Ms Evelyn Anite, the State Minister of Investment and Privatization who doubled as the team leader observed that Nile Breweries Limited, a beer company in Uganda imported sorghum from Malaysia worth shs40bn last year yet such money would have remained within the country’s economy if cooperatives were empowered to grow such crops.

“We thought we should bring these unions to you (Saleh) and see how we can revamp them for the development of our country,” Anite stressed.

She commended West Nile cooperative union for agreeing to move away from tobacco growing to other food crops, saying it has been a long-time call from President Yoweri Museveni.

She introduced Mr Joel Aita, the executive director of Agri-Gloveg with whom the West Nile cooperative union has signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the growing of soya beans, sorghum and simsim in the region.

Mr Joel Aita 15 10 19Mr Joel Aita makes a case before Gen Salim Saleh during the meeting at Kapeeka.

Under the partnership, Agri-Gloveg will provide a market for the produce, inputs and extension services to the farmers while union will use its extensive network of farmers to grow the crops.

Mr Moses Etukibo, the General Manager of West Nile Cooperative union used the opportunity to ask the government to provide the union with 52 tractors together with its implements to be managed by the 23 societies affiliated to the cooperative.

“We urge the government to consider providing the union with multipurpose vegetable extraction machine as well as financial support to renovate 23 warehouses which have become dilapidated,” he said.

“We also pray that through you, the President directs the ministry of trade to speed up the process of compensation for the union for the damages caused to its properties during the 1979 war.”

Similarly, Mr Isaac Kuga, the Madi cooperative union chairperson expressed dissatisfaction to the government for the decision taken to reduce their earlier demand for compensation of between shs 21.5bn to shs1bn.

“Currently, we have plenty of fertile land for cotton production and Industrialization, cheap and available labour force but we need the government to consider compensating us fully in this revival process to ensure that we strengthen our activities,” Kuga said.

He noted that Madi sub-region has bad roads especially the Atyak – Moyo – Yumbe – Koboko road, saying once tarmacked, it can make marketing of their produce easy.

Gen Salim Saleh in his response said: “I have been working with cooperatives for over 20 years without much success because most of them are faced with many challenges; some of which are incurable, however, if you, (Aita Joel) think they can work, I have no problem”.

The meeting was earlier proceeded by a tour of Kapeeka industrial park led by Ms Anite.