Eight Canadian co-operators are visiting Uganda to learn about CCA’s Integrated Finance and Agricultural Production Initiative (IFAPI) model. CCA and the Uganda Co-operative Alliance have developed an innovative approach to rural development by linking agricultural co-operatives, marketing co-ops and savings and credit co-operatives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Icebergs and Co-ops

Exposure to Ugandan culture has had an impact on the entire team. Jim Harris commented that Canadians live in a nanny state by comparison to Uganda and I agree. He pointed out how our coffee cup lids say “Caution: Hot beverage” and how we strap our children into cars like they’re astronauts. In Uganda we’ve seen entire families on one motorcycle. (Caution: Nanny state or not, do not try this at home. Have a licence, wear a helmet, keep your mind on the road, watch out for pedestrians, use winter tires as needed, keep your vehicle in good condition, and drive safely.)

CCA shared with our team the notion that culture is like an iceberg; what is visible on the surface, (especially to a tourist), is only a small part. Any culture has a massive underlying foundation that may take years for an outsider to fully know and understand. Our team has been lucky to even take a peek at the peak of the iceberg that is Ugandan culture.

Today our team had its first exposure to Masindi, a great town. Shortly after our arrival at the Hotel Victory Bijja we held our first round of interviews with local co-op members. It was enlightening to hear their stories of how belonging to a co-op has had a positive effect on their lives.

Prince, a co-op member's son
Members Feko, Joseph, Grace and Deo at co-op meeting
We headed out in a van to the Bomido Co-op Society outside Masindi. We were greeted by the chairperson, Turyagaruka Christine, ACE manager Masinguzuki James, and several co-op members.

Christine started our meeting with a prayer and introductions. We began interviewing co-op members on the spot and then were escorted on a tour of their farms. The work these Ugandan farmers are doing is impressive. Through their production co-op, Bomido RPO, they’ve been trained to take maximum advantage of their land and as a result they’re growing diverse crops. They’re also getting the best price for their crops through their marketing co-op, Bomido ACE. And they’re handling their financial transactions through a financial co-op, Bomido SACCO. 

Deborah Chatterton

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