Linking its farmer members to local, regional and national markets – thereby doing away with the middlemen who profit at the expense of the farmers – is the key to the success of agricultural cooperatives.

The latest report from the FAO on hunger released on October 9, shows that 870 million people do not have enough food on a daily basis. The FAO has also identified that co-operatives are a big part of the solution in rural communities. In Uganda, agricultural cooperatives do much to improve production and raise the standard of living of their farmer members.

Nyabubare Ace is located in Bushenyi District in the southern part of Uganda. The ACE works in six sectors of agricultural production: wines (mainly from banana), honey, livestock (piggery, poultry,) fish farming and coffee. Because of this range of enterprises Nyabubare ACE has attracted and continues to attract a large number of members from the communities.

It started in 2004 and registered in 2007 as a co-operative with the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives. It currently has a total membership of 2,020 members from 6 rural producer organizations (RPO’s) but is mobilizing more to increase its membership. The ACE was formed to sensitize, mobilize and educate the members so that they could produce better quality and larger volumes of the six products as well as add value to them to maximize farmers benefits.

Nyabubare Ace has connected its members to markets and therefore increased the return to its farmer members. The services have trickled down to the farmers at grassroot level through Rural Producer Organizations (RPO’s) and empowered them in terms of self reliance.

We salute Uganda Co-operative Alliance for having initiated the birth of ACE’s and RPO’s and for all the support rendered to us by Agriterra and the ICA. We have great pride and hopes that with our tireless efforts, our products will cross borders.

This story originally appeard in the ICA Expo Newsletter.