29 December 2008

Uganda: Govt Should Strengthen Cooperatives


Kampala — WITH the new year knocking at our door, we need fresh minds to develop Uganda.

Agriculture being the backbone of our country, there is need for policies that will enhance the sector's development.

There is need to amend the cooperative law to be more business oriented and member owned.

The weak Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) supervision and regulation because of limited resources and the weak legal provisions need to be strengthened.

Emphasis is required on the ownership of cooperatives to instill values and build capacity of farmers for the sustainability of production.

There should be minimal political interference because politicising of programmes has also been an impediment to achieving their goals and objectives. For instance, at the time of independence in 1962, cooperatives expanded but changed purpose and direction, after leaders of primary societies began forming alliances with the new political parties that had been formed.

This resulted into cooperative movements being politicised and the Government taking control through the Ministry of Land and Agriculture in the early sixties.

The period between 1963 to 1970 was characterised by cooperative legislation that sought direct control over all cooperatives activities.

By 1995, the cooperative movement was no more.

Cooperative movements in Africa have not been successful due to bad management and political interference. Currently, there are efforts to revitalise some of the old cooperatives and to form new societies or associations.

Unlike Uganda, the politicians in Denmark do not interfere in the activities of cooperatives. They only contribute to the growth of cooperative societies as independent people's fora. This has helped to enhance democracy and cooperative development.

Therefore, for Ugandan cooperatives to succeed we need harmonisation in the operation and implementation of SACCOS as a way of improving people's lives. And we need political support rather than interference.

The writer is a research and advocacy officer with the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises

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