Rtd Gen Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has stressed the need for farmer cooperatives to clearly identify their objectives which he said is critical in how they operate and the partnerships they make.
He said that successful cooperatives are those that narrow their mandate to specific targets rather than tackle everything.
The General was speaking on Monday in Kasese district where he celebrated his birthday with maize farmers of Rugendabara.
Saleh informed the farmers that most cooperatives in Uganda collapsed because members did not adhere to the internationally recognized principles that include Voluntary and open membership, Democratic member control, Member economic participation, Autonomy and independence, Provision of education, training and information, Cooperation among cooperatives and Concern for the community.
He challenged cooperators to precisely define the capacity of their cooperative and then create viable synergies and value chains to cooperate with other cooperatives.
“It’s suicidal for any cooperative movement to fail to define the capacity of its activities. Successful cooperatives are those that avoided doing everything, avoided being everywhere but nowhere,” he said.
Mandala Mpafu, the Afgri country manager said that the company was formed by farmers in 1923.
“Afgri is born of farmers and therefore it best understands the needs of a farmer. Our objective is to work for and with farmers by being a value chain manager,” Mpafu said.
Afgri which has set up a 10,000 metric tonne storage capacity at Rugendabara and is now in partnership with government to establish a warehouse receipt system to help farmers reduce post harvest looses and access better market.
Chris Kaijuka, the chairperson of the Uganda Grain Council lauded Gen Saleh for bringing together both the public and the private sector players in the farming industry.
Dr Sam Mugasi, the director of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs) observed that the up – bottom planning for the agricultural sector is not helping the farmers.
“In Kampala, we are very busy planning for the farmers but we seem not to fully understand what is on ground. As government, we need to constantly plan with farmers and co-operators if we are to fully meet their needs,” Dr Mugasi said.
Gen Saleh later on served a meal to the farmers as they sang to him a happy birthday song amidst cheers.
He was joined by the farmers to munch a farm product – a barbecued goat – as cake for his birthday.
He was later on treated to entertainment of the Bakiga traditional dance known as ekitagururo.