EAC farmers want Cooperatives Bill signed

KAMPALA, UGANDA: Farmers from the East African Community under their Umbrella East African Farmers Federation (EAFF) have asked EAC heads of states to assent to the East African Cooperative Societies Bill 2014.

Farmers argue that once the bill is assented to by the heads of states, it will help farmers to over come some of the challenges affecting them especially when it comes to Agro business trade among the  EAC member states.

“Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has assented to the bill but the bill cannot be operationalised when the other Heads of State have not appended their signature.

“As farmers we call upon the other heads of states to help farmers by signing on the Bill,” said Elizabeth Nsimadala the newly elected president of EAFF during the 4th EAFF congress which was held at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

The Bill, which was introduced to the EAC assembly as private members bill by Ugandan legislator in 2014 by Mike Kennedy Ssebalu a EAC Legislator from Uganda was passed by the EAC legislator’s in 2015.

Farmers from the community believe that once the bill becomes Law it will facilitate business coordination in the region.

The objective of the EAC Cooperative Societies Bill, 2014 is to provide a legal framework for Co-operative Societies in line with Article 128 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC strengthening the role of private sector as an effective force for developing economies.

The Bill is based on the understanding that each Partner State shall undertake to encourage the efficient use of resources and to promote the development of private sector organizations which are engaged in all types of economic activities, such as the chambers of commerce and industry, confederations and associations of industry, agriculture among others.

Nsimadala explained that the bill has potential to organize farmers from the member states to form farmer’s cooperatives which can strengthen their bargaining power when it comes to selling of their produces across the region.

The current EAFF membership comprises of Apex farmers associations, cooperatives and commodity associations in 10 states namely Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and others  from Neighboring East African Community states that include Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea Ethiopia and Djibouti.     

Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries Vicent Bamualangaki Ssempija said the president very will soon assent on the Bill but he has been under pressure of state duties.

“The Government of Uganda is aware of the economic value of the Bill and aim at assuring you farmers that the head of state will assent to that Bill probably before the end of this year,” said Ssempijja.