By Sharifah Namunana
Whenwe celebrate International Cooperatives Day at Nakaseke on Saturday, 2nd July, 2016 under the theme, ‘Cooperatives: The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future’ Ugandans should consider forming and joining cooperatives, to enable our economy to attain middle income status by 2020.
Cooperatives (or co-ops) are advantageous because instead of one operating one’s businesssolely, one can join a co-op and get the necessary support he or she needs to grow the business.Cooperatives are not only for farmers but you can form cooperatives across all spheres of life ranging from students, teachers, doctors, security officers among others. I am glad that to date the number of cooperatives is increasing, these among many include; Bugishu Cooperative Union, Wamala growers, Uganda Meat Producers Cooperative Union and SACCOs. During a talk show, ‘Kiliza oba Gaana’ (Agree or Disagree) on CBS Monday, June 27, 2016theSpokesperson for Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, Ms. Hadijah Nakakande reported the government has registered17,600cooperative groups countrywide so far.
The government has also created a favorable environment in which these cooperatives can prosper through amending acts like the Cooperatives Act (1991) in which the leaders of such groups must have term limits to avoid corruption and embezzlement of funds. Secondly, when one is a member of a prosperous cooperative, there is a higher chance of receiving value addition equipment from government like a maize mill. Thirdly, is that the government, in partnership with National Forestry Authority, Coffee Development Authority and UHURU Institute for Social Development has embarked on sensitizing the general public on cooperatives through a workshop at Makerere University.
The government also intervened in the crisis of Bugishu Cooperative Union, the leading cooperative for coffee farmers in Northern Mbale Eastern Uganda around 2008/2009, the Union had lost about Shs15 billion as a result of careless petitions and government suspended the union leaders .while speaking at a special consultative meeting in Mbale on 22nd November, 2013, Trade minister Amelia Kyambade admitted that the government was misled and the issue was solved accordingly.