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HomeOPINIONS AND COLUMNSPAUL MUGOYA: Tribute To All Bugisu Cooperative Union Elders And Farmers

PAUL MUGOYA: Tribute To All Bugisu Cooperative Union Elders And Farmers

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BCU is among agricultural federations of Unions, established in 1954 by small holder coffee farmers led by the late Samson Kitutu. Before BCU, there was Bugisu Coffee Scheme, that acted as an umbrella of loose Unions. The sole purpose of establishing BCU was to bring small holder farmers together and have a stronger bargain power for their coffee to get better prices by getting rid of middlemen who were ripping off big profits from farmers.

As a result farmers organized themselves at farm gate levels to form Growers Cooperative Societies which registered to become members of the Union by buying shares in BCU. At that time, the laws that governed Cooperatives gave much powers to the government Register of Cooperatives that had sweeping powers to interfere in the operations of the running of Societies but fortunately at that time government left some space for the Unions to operate their businesses.

The space was monopoly. They were given the monopoly to export until 1969 when government came in and did the marketing by itself by establishing the Coffee Marketing Board, CMB. This was a form of government interference to control and influence the running of the Union purposely to politicize the operations of the Union to objectively to control proceeds from the sales of coffee to tap on the foreign currency.

Then again recently in came the liberalization policy in the NRM where BCU lost the monopoly. Then came in the liberalization policy that brought in competitors who have no heart to preserve the name of Bugisu Arabic coffee have instead steadily negatively affected the quality of our coffee. This has distorted the brand of Bugisu Arabica. The law does not protect the product and quality of Bugisu Arabica.

There is need to legislate by- laws and laws to protect our coffee. Today, any player who has acquired a license is allowed to trade. Regulations are very weak. This has adversely affected the original aroma and the special taste of our coffee.

Because there are some competitors who do not mind to stick to observe the specific guidelines of processing coffee, starting at the farm gate. There is a big contrast on quality at the time of monopoly and the time of liberalization. Policies, if awkwardly embraced can affect a produce or a product.

Quality: If government wants draw and attract more money from the coffee earnings in foreign markets, it should avoid going full blast on the new changes on economic policies. It should be mindful and instead be protective of the quality of national cash crops so that both producers and government can make maximum returns in profits.

Coffee Stabilization Fund:
This is a Fund where when coffee prices have soared, government can put aside some money to compensate farmers when losses occur. This is to government of Uganda notably UCDA. Where is this money? Uganda farmers are demanding to know. They need an explanation.

BCU Warehouses In Mombasa: What happened to farmers warehouses that are in Mombasa that were taken over by Uganda Up Holdings, a government subsidiary without compensation ? Can government explain.

Tribute: I take this humble opportunity to thank all Elders who successfully participated in the struggle of saving BCU from being sold, this has made BCU an outstanding Union in Bugisu and the country at large. BCU has withstood against all odds that include tides and waves.

I wish to appreciate my colleagues who relentlessly fought and remained resilient to protect the Union, especially our colleagues who passed away notably, mzee the late Bishop Mudonyi, the late Muliro, the late Wabomba, DC and the late Masaba, may their souls RIP and to those who are now struggling with sickness. I would like to extend my special thanks to our lawyers Counsel Charles Gyabi and Wandera Ogalo for the good work done.

Special thanks go to all coffee farmers in all zones for the support and well deserved special thanks to our Patron who facilitated the struggle all the way through, Hon. Nandala Mafabi and finally to His Excellency the President of Uganda, Gen. Y.K Museveni for being receptive twice when we met him at State House on December 4th, 2014 and on November 3rd, 2015 respectively. God bless all. Wele alinde.

Paul Polly Mugoya, Former Chairman BCU Elders Forum, Strugglist.

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