TIDE: Stories of transformation - Kabura Farmers Cooperative

TIDE: Stories of transformation - Kabura Farmers Cooperative

A third story highlighting the transformation that the TIDE project is creating at farmer and private sector level: Kabura Farmers Cooperative which has been able to show a boundless growth trajectory.

The five year The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise (TIDE) project in Uganda (funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) aims to improve incomes for 20,000 dairy farmers in the districts of Bushenyi, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ntungamo and Sheema. Now in its third year, the project is creating tangible results, having developed a number of relevant products and services for dairy farmers, delivered by the private sector.

Expanding in the dairy market with no apologies.

Growth can be slow and difficult, but it can also be fast and sustained. Kabura society knows what it means to be on both sides of the growth curve. Established in 2011, the society experienced slow growth in its first five year, collecting an average of 6,000 litres of milk per day from its 89 members. With only two milk collection centres (MCCs) the society could only do so much. This changed in 2016, with support from the TIDE project.

"The first time SNV came to our society, they found our chairman paying the members. Even though we had an accountant, the chairman preferred to handle all financial matters himself." Samuel Amanya Kabura society manager explained during a meeting with him. “In the past the chairman was the only one who would be interviewed on any matters concerning the cooperative. Now we have learnt how to handle money and apportion responsibilities to the right people." he adds.

In 2016, the TIDE project, through Agriterra, trained the society's management team on governance, financial management and how to run the dairy cooperative as a profit making business. "We learnt about the importance of maintaining and retaining our members by treating them as owners of the business. We were also taught about the importance of getting our members involved in the society’s activities as a means of ensuring that they remain committed to the society." The management decided to act on the recommendations. They established seven committees, each compromising of three members to handle different components of the society’s business. In 2016, the society gave its members dividends for the very first time, something Samuel attributes to the trainings they received. They also partnered with Solar Now, to provide solar products to their members at subsidised rates. The society acted as guarantor.

The society also realised that to expand and get more members and increase their milk collections, they needed to provide their services closer to the farmers. In 2016, the society established four additional MCCs within the Lyantonde district where the society is located. Within one year, their membership increased by 48% from 89 farmers in 2015 to 132 members at the end of 2016. In 2017, the society established 3 additional MCCs which enabled them to reach even more farmers. Each collection centre also implements community outreach activities to promote the society and its services, with farmers. As a result, the society registered 63 new members in 2017, raising their numbers to 194.

Currently the society collects an average of 27,000 litres of milk which it sells to Pearl Dairies. The society has become a force to recon with in the district, dominating the local milk market. Despite the current low milk prices in the region with milk selling as low as 500 shillings in some areas, the society has decided to maintain a high price; buying milk from its members at 625 shillings because they have learnt an important business lesson – to keep their members happy.