PRODUCER ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND
Rugendabara Farmer’s Cooperative is located in Kitcwamba Sub County of Kasese district in western Uganda. The cooperative has over 1800 members (910 male and 820 female). The cooperative society has 2,508.5 hectares which is divided into five blocks (RPOs). The members of the cooperative use the land to grow maize, which the PO trades, as well as collect fees on the land for income. Previously, members in this cooperative did not consider the youth as key actors in the value chain since they did not own land and could not be members of the cooperative. This was due to a clause in their bylaws which stated that land ownership was a prerequisite for membership to the cooperative. This excluded the majority of the youth in the community from joining the cooperative because they did not own land. Consequently, many youths lost interest in agriculture but also threatened the continued existence of the PO.
During a PO action-planning workshop, supported by USAID Uganda Feed the Future Producer Organizations Activity, the PO was supported to identify ways of increasing their membership for improved business and sustainability. One of the ways explored was increasing women and youth participation in PO activities. The PO leadership agreed to come up with a resolution in the Annual General meeting to amend their constitution to allow for the participation of youth and women without land in other value chain activities. This did not happen however, until the youth intensified internal advocacy to have this particular issue addressed by the PO. Through partnership with Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA) USAID Feed the Future Producer Organizations Activity, youth leaders were trained on the FACT methodology so that they are able to support the POs on agricultural youth related advocacy issues. Following the training of the youth, a number of issues affecting their participation in agriculture were identified, including limited participation in POs, inadequate information and limited access to land. Youth advocacy action plans were developed out of these issues and used by the youth to engage the PO leadership. As a result of these engagements, Rugendabara cooperative accepted to ring fence such activities in their values chains that did not require land for youth participation and income generation.
IMPACT OF FEED THE FUTURE ACTIVITIES ON THE PRODUCER ORGANIZATION
The PO Manager mobilized the youth for an meeting and informed them of the available opportunities at the cooperative that they could take advantage of to earn an income from cooperative activities. Such opportunities included operating the shelling machines and transporting produce from members’ farms to the cooperative store. During the harvesting season, the youth were mobilized to actively participate in the activities that were identified by the management of the cooperative. Rugendabara had secured maize shellers from Feed the Future Commodity Production and Marketing. These were allocated to the youth for shelling maize produce for members of the cooperative. According to the Rugendabara Cooperative Manager, “These are not full members of the cooperative yet, but sons and daughters of the members.” By allocating the youth this activity of managing the shelling business, the cooperative encouraged them to participate in the maize value chain until such a time when the PO constitution is amended for the landless to become members. During the previous harvest season, 18 youth shelled and transported 115 metric tons of maize produce to the cooperative store. At a cost of 3,000/= per bag, the youth made UGX 3,450,000 of which UGX 1,550,000 remained with the cooperative while UGX 2,300,000 was given to the youth operating the machine and those transporting the produce to the store. The youth will forever be grateful to USAID Feed the future Producer Organizations Activity for providing them with the support and building their capacity to identify challenges and overcome them.
PO Name: Rugendabara Cooperative Society
Location: Kitswamba Kasese District
Point of Contact: Ninsiima Prima, Manager
Phone Number: 0773472870