Reaping the benefits of cooperatives in Uganda

Abiro Joyce, a 52-year-old mother, smiles and points to her son seated on his new motorcycle, a bike that he’s bought with the proceeds of his cassava crop.

“I used to live in a grass thatched house and I am now living in a permanent house and able to educate my children from profits I get from loans and farming. My son is now a member of the farming group too, and is able to get loans that have helped him cultivate cassava and buy a boda boda motorcycle.

“David Ogwang [Farm Africa’s Project Coordinator], you encouraged us to form our farming group, save money, and grow crops for food and surplus for sale and build better houses. You can see the results yourself.”

Joyce lives in Ajobi village, in Katine sub-county, Uganda. Seven years ago, when Farm Africa started work in the area, she joined the newly-formed Emorikikinos Farmers Group, part of the Katine Joint Farmers Cooperative Society.

In the year that followed, Joyce’s fortunes changed dramatically. As well as receiving agricultural training and inputs from Farm Africa, the Emorkikinos group also set up a savings and loans association, whereby farmers like Joyce contributed a sum every month and took it in turns to borrow lump sums from the collective savings to invest. With loans from the cooperative, Joyce built up a thriving farming business, and has been able to provide better housing, food and education for her family.

Joyce has used the profits from her crops to build a new house for her family

“It used to be difficult to get beans seed for planting but the cooperative gave me a loan of seed in kind worth Ugx 90,000. I planted one acre of beans this season and I have harvested over 150 kg, sold the surplus and got Ugx 165,000, which has helped me clear my loan, pay my son’s school fees in Soroti, buy some household items and even left me with a balance of Ugx. 30,000 to save with my group.”

“I am planning to get another loan from the cooperative to create a produce business where I can buy from farmers in my village who don’t sell to the cooperative. Then I can supply the cooperative with maize, beans, millet and green grams.”

And Joyce is now also involved in our FoodTrade project, which will help her to sell her excess crops across borders to buyers in Kenya. So she and her son can look forward to reaping even more benefits from their farm in the future.

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