Perspectives Volume 40, Number 1 - Page 17

Profit from Selling in Bulk CATALIST-Uganda is empowering nearly 7,000 oilseed farmers organized into 270 farmers’ groups in the Lango sub-region of northern Uganda by strengthening their organizations. These farmers face many challenges, including poor input supply systems and unequal power relations. As organizations, these farmers lack a strong voice to negotiate with traders and other actors in the value chain. These issues cause smallholder farmers to have little access to crop finance suited to their needs and keep them from participating profitably in the value chain. In response, CATALIST-Uganda’s support to farmer cooperative networks is providing avenues for farmers to address these challenges. Most importantly, the project is facilitating interactions among the value chain actors and promoting market information sharing. Efforts such as encouraging bulking of oilseed have resulted in great benefits for farmers. For example, the 756 members of Acwec Omio Cooperative, with support from the project, bulked a collective total of 236 metric tons of oilseed at the end of first the season in 2014. Taking the bulk to market, members bargained for prices 30 percent higher than the prevailing farm gate prices. As a result, the farmers earned an estimated 70 million Uganda shillings ($27,000). Willy Okot, a project officer with the cooperative, reported that farmer interest in bulking has increased following the benefits observed by those who are already selling in bulk. However, he noted that some farmers, wanting immediate cash, choose not to participate in bulking. With their addition, though, the cooperative could realize greater potential. To encourage these farmers to participate, the cooperative offers several incentives: input credit, crop finance and transport of produce to bulking centers. Through such well-designed and appropriate interventions, the CATALIST-Uganda project continues to empower more smallholder farmers through strengthened engagement in the value chain. Organizing as farmer networks gives cooperative members stronger voices and collective bargaining power with traders. These efforts are one step in ensuring fair return, food security and employment opportunities for smallholder farmers, their families and the communities – resulting in improved incomes and livelihoods. CATALIST-Uganda is supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. IFDC Magazine 17