September 28, 2022

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Bunyaruguru Tooke Farmer’s Cooperative Helps Rubirizi Women Get Better Prices

2 min read

Banana farmers and traders in Rubirizi district have formed a cooperative Society to boost their income. The idea to form Bunyaruguru Tooke Farmer’s cooperative Society limited was born during the peak of the nationwide lockdown, which severely affected banana prices.

An average bunch of bananas dropped to between Shillings 1000 and 3000 on the farm and between Shillings 4000 and 6000 in the market.   As a result, Banana farmers and traders mainly comprising women in Bushonga Sub County decided to form Bunyaruguru Tooke Farmer’s cooperative Society limited to boost their business.

A group of men have since embraced the cooperatives bringing the total number of subscribers to 150.   Olive Rukundo, a Banana farmer in Magambo village says that the cooperative is an eye-opener to the farmers on how to benefit more from their produce. She says that they have now an opportunity to negotiate better prices for their bananas and now sell the bananas in Kilograms, which gives them more money.

Rukundo says that the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development factory had earlier asked them if they could collect over 14 tons of Matooke, which they failed to do for so many years but now raise 24 tons through the cooperative.

Claire Boonabana, a resident of Bushonga says that the price of banana has increased from Shillings 2000 to 12,000 for a small bunch and Shillings 5000 to Shillings 25000 for a large bunch of bananas. She disclosed that she previously used to carry bananas to the market for a distance of between 5-10 kilometers. Boonabana, however, the establishment of the cooperative has saved her from incurring transport costs because it has set up buying centers.

Kelemensia Kyokunda, District Bushonga sub-county councillor and Rubiziri District Community-Based Services Secretary, says that he joined the cooperative as a leader to serve as an example to other women that they need to work hard despite their status.  

Felix Begumisa Kyabashashaki, a resident of Bugaaya parish member, says the cooperative has taught them new methods of growing Matooke and how to add value to their produce. He says the value addition such as producing wine from the bananas has increased their household incomes.

Ben Bataringaya, the Chairperson of Bunyaruguru Tooke Farmer’s Cooperative Society, says that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic affected matooke prices, which undermined the farmer’s morale. He says identifying market and boosting the morale of women towards the Matooke business were the key drivers for forming the cooperative.

Deo Abimpe, the Rubirizi District Assistant Commercial Officer says that the collective sale of Matooke by the farmers made it possible for them to form a partnership with the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development. He says it has brought a sigh of relief to both farmers and banana traders in Rubirizi district. Cooperatives give farmers the power to negotiate for better prices and inputs.   

According to the Ministry of trade and cooperatives statics as of February 2020, the cooperative movement in Uganda comprised 21,346 registered cooperative societies with an estimated 5.6 million members.   

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