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Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP II)

Background

Uganda Co-operative Alliance signed a contract with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries under the Vegetable Oil Development Project Phase 2 (VODP2) with financial support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to provide technical support to farmers to grow high value Oil Seed crops including Sesame, Soy bean, Groundnuts and Sunflower and this is being implemented in the Regions of Mbale, Lira, Gulu, Arua. Farmers in Kalangala area are being supported to produce Palm Oil.

In the Vegetable Oil Development Project Phase 2 (VODP2), UCA will carry out farmer institutional development and strengthening under the oilseeds and oil palm components.

  • Under oilseeds component, UCA is mandated to support the formation and strengthening of oil seeds farmer secondary organizations in the targeted districts for effective delivery of services to farmers.
  • Under the oil-palm component, UCA will support the development of oil palm smallholders in Kalangala by restructuring the institutional framework towards ensuring the provision of sustainable support services to oil palm growers and capacity development of involved stakeholder institutions.

Project goal

The overall goal of the project is to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction in the project area. The development objective is to increase the domestic production of vegetable oil products to Ugandan consumers and neighbouring regional markets.  This will be achieved by supporting farmers to increase production of crushing material (both oil palm and oilseeds), and facilitating commercial relations with processors.

Planned Activities

Because of the good working relationship between UCA and the government of the republic of Uganda represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries, UCA started project implementation together with the Project Management Unit (PMU) and by June 2017, a formal contract was signed between the two parties to continue with the implementation of the following activities:

In the oil palm component, three major activities include;

  1. Providing technical support and to strengthen Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Association (KOPGA), in its existing form
  2. Guide KOPGA to transform into a new entity with a structural framework as decided by oilpalm farmers in Kalangala
  3. Support the newly formed oilpalm FO to formalise and build capacity to serve oilpalm growers in Kalangala.

Results of VODP support:  A well maintained Oilpalm garden and focused oilseed production.

Planned Activities Results/Achievements Remarks
  Oilpalm component  
Sensitisation of oil palm growers about the roles and responsibilities of the proposed KOPGA governance structures. i. Training of members and guiding them to set the minimum qualification requirements for oilpalm leaders at all levels of KOPGA structure.
ii. Introduced the vetting approach for members to ensure leaders are scrutinised well enough before elections, especially at block and district level.
iii. Facilitated general members’ meetings at unit and block level, to enable members elect leaders at the respective levels.
iv. Introduced a delegates system of representation for KOPGA general meeting
 
Facilitate the election of new leadership at Unit, Block and District level. Oil palm growers were successfully guided into elections for new leaders at all levels.  
Orientation of newly elected leaders at unit, block and district level. Newly elected leaders at all levels of the KOPGA structure underwent induction training for them to understand their roles and responsibility in the respective positions they had elected into. The orientation improved their capacity and also enlightened their understanding of the responsibilities they have in the oilpalm business.  
Facilitate an exposure visit for KOPGA leaders to learn about the different forms of FO governance and management frameworks, as they prepare to transform into another FO framework. Through the exposure visit, leaders learnt the commonest forms of institutional frameworks for farmers’ organisations as a way of guiding their decision-making during selection of a governance and management framework for their new farmers’ organisation. After the exposure visit, to a cooperative and farmers company (limited by guarantee) the farmers still wanted to understand the exact benefits of co-operatives as well as the difference between cooperatives and other forms of organisations. The farmers sought services of an independent consultant and an attorney was also requested for from the Solicitor General’s office to provide an independent explanation for members to decide their destiny. In the end oilpalm farmer leaders chose for KOPGA to become a cooperative.
  Oilseed Component  
Facilitating sensitisation and mobilisation of oilseed farmers to join Lower Level Farmers’ Organisations (LLFOs) in the hubs of Arua, Lira, and Gulu. A total of 39 LLFOs managed to join Higher Level Farmers Organisations (HLFOs) as a direct result of UCA’s intervention during the period, and this brought on board an increase in member beneficiaries to 8,411 households.  
Building the capacity of leaders and managers in existing HLFOs in terms of governance and management system set-up. HLFOs leaders and managers, especially in Mbale were trained in governance and supported to establish and streamline their leadership and management systems. This was done for just a few HLFOS in the hubs, to establish the magnitude of work at hand for UCA to prepare for scaling up.  

The following activities will be conducted in the inception phase, and should be completed by 30th September.

  1. Hold meeting of all block leaders – to further discuss the co-operative framework and agree on a single structure. The need for this meeting arose due to the just concluded orientation of all farmers’ leaders at block level, where a new suggestion for a single farmer co-operative came up, instead of multiple primary co-operatives at block level and then a second-tier co-operative at the district level. This meeting will also make suggestions for nominal share fee, number of shares, membership fees as well as number of shares required for one to be a fully registered member of the new cooperative. We will also agree on how to receive and manage these fees from farmers signing up for the co-operative.
  2. Orient the new Ssesse Oil Palm Growers (SOPAG) SACCO board members who came into office after the AGM in June. Induction training was conducted by the DCO in July, but it is prudent that we have a more comprehensive training conducted by a more technical person in SACCO management to further build their capacity in playing their oversight roles in management of the SACCO. The orientation will revolve around management as well as business development and strengthening of the partnership with KOPGA and Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust (KOPGT) for enhanced financial service delivery to oilpalm growers.
  3. Hold a joint meeting for SOPAG, KOPGA boards and KOPGT managers to discuss the linkage and operationalisation of the partnership amongst them. The leaders will discuss in detail and seek to understand the roles to be played by each of the three Farmer Organizations, which will further help to refine UCA’s intervention work, to build capacity of each based on the agreed-on roles for each.
  4. Guide current block leaders to conduct sensitization and mobilization of farmers to start the formal registration of the Oilpalm Growers Co-operative. During this activity, members will be guided on how to pay for membership fees and purchase shares in the co-operative. All members’ concerns will also be addressed during this period. The exercise is expected to be completed by end of October.
  5. Conduct Training of Trainers (ToT) for Private Service Providers (PSPs) and District Local Government (DLG) extension workers in all the hubs.
  6. Conduct an assessment of all FOs being supported by the PSPs and DLGs with a purpose to support PSPs and DLGs to fully provide the needed support the FOs they have been working with ad have reached bulking and or collective marketing stage.
  7. Fine tune training materials to use during capacity building of leaders and managers in the FOs, starting with a training guide for the PSP and DLG extension workers.
Lessons learnt

Farmers have the ability to make decisions capable of positively impacting their FOs, if their capacity is well built. This has been observed from Kalangala as we supported oilpalm growers since 2015, in the midst of a multitude of stakeholders, all of whom had different ideas for the farmers.

Conclusion

There is still a lot that needs to be done to build the capacity of the KOPGA in Kalangala as well as both HLFOs and LLFOs to become vibrant and provide the much needed services to the smallholder farmers to enable them increase production and productivity of vegetable oil seed crops in order to increase their incomes.

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Contact Information

Phone : +256 414 258898/4/8
Email : info@uca.coop
Address : Plot 47/49,
Nkrumah Road
P.O. Box 2215, Kampala-Uganda