Internal Squabbles In BCU Take Toll on Coffee Production Top story

1776 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
Danny Mafabi, a coffee famer from Lushya Sub County in Bulambuli district misses the good old days when BCU would distribute farm inputs like fertilizers, insecticides, seeds and pulping machines to farmers to motivate them.

The long standing squabbles at Bugisu Cooperative Union - BCU are taking a huge toll on coffee production in Bugisu region. Established as an agricultural cooperative federation in July 1954, BCU is owned by coffee farmers who are organised in primary societies.

Each primary society keeps a register of its fully paid-up members who elect a committee, which manages the society's affairs. BCU operates according to International Co-operatives Principles. However, since 2010 the union has been marred by wrangles

Some of the members, majority of whom are from Nagawoya, Bubenzye, Budwale and Nakyelo primary cooperative societies have been fighting an endless war against the Nathan Nandala Mafabi led board Union.

The group accuses the board of financial impropriety and mismanagement of union property.  The disgruntled members have filed more than 50 petitions to government expressing their disagreement.  Numerous audits and investigations have been conducted into the affairs of the union and exonerated the Nandala led board of any wrong doing.

Despite this, those in the rival camp have refused to give up the fight against his administration, which has affected the Union operations. Now, coffee farmers are saying the feud is taking a toll on coffee farming in the region. They argue that unlike in the past, the Union is unable to adequately transact business, which they say has discouraged coffee farmers forcing them to abandon the crop. 

Danny Mafabi, a coffee famer from Lushya Sub County in Bulambuli district misses the good old days when BCU would distribute farm inputs like fertilizers, insecticides, seeds and pulping machines to farmers to motivate them.
 
 
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Mafabi says most farmers are abandoning coffee production and opted for other alternatives like onion, maize and cabbage growing among others to support their livelihoods. He says coffee prices have continued to dwindle because of lack of a competitive buyer.
 

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Jackson Nambeshe, another coffee farmer from Sironko district, says he has been frustrated because of the infighting in BCU, which he says has affected the operation of the union. He recalls the good days when BCU would offer bursaries to students and also held government to fix some of bad infrastructure in the region to facilitate coffee production.
 

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Polly Mugoya, the Chairperson of the Elders forum in Bugisu Co-operative Union accuses government of politicising the affairs of the union. He claims that government is responsible for fueling the disputes in the union for political reasons.


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Mugoya says they are aware that the squabbles in the union have left the farmers on their own.
 

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He however says they will continue engaging farmers until the union is able to run smoothly.

 

About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.