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ON THE FARM: How cooperatives have boosted Cocoa production
Cooperative Unions are cited by farmers as the antidote to market bottlenecks and prices. Ivan Kimuli Kigozi in our weekly feature On the Farm looks at how cooperative Unions have boosted the Cocoa business in Bundibugyo district.

Failure to access agricultural technologies and inadequate market access is regarded as the major reason why farmers in Uganda have failed to get enough out of commercial production.

Cocoa farmers are not an exception to this malaise especially those in Bundibugyo District which is a major producer of Cocoa in Uganda

Talking to various farmers in Rwenzururu sub-region we realised that market access and proper agricultural practices is a bottleneck

Having grappled with this challenge, farmers in the district formed the Semliki Cooperative Union in 2010 largely a fulcrum to market accessibility.

 

Christopher Byomukama the operations manager says the cooperative union is a work in progress 

The Semliki Cooperative Union has ten thousand cocoa farmers.

This strength in numbers has enabled farmers to lobby for better cocoa pricesHowever, all has not been rosy for the Union, they still face a number of challenges especially failure by financial institutions to recognise farmer groups.

Byomukama says lack of a streamlined policy on the cocoa sector has affected their operations as well as government’s attitude towards.

The Cooperative Union collects more than 200 tonnes of cocoa in two weeks from their farmers.

However, they cite unfair competition from Cocoa exporters.

According to recent statistics in Bundibugyo district, farmers produce 15,000 metric tonnes of cocoa per annum and there are more than 15 cocoa trading companies. 

Next week we conclude our series on Cocoa growing by sharing an insight from a farmer who is exporting cocoa.