Participation in coffee cooperative union and impact on farmers income in Kasese District
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This study attempts to assess participation in coffee cooperative union and evaluate its impact on the performance of coffee farmers in terms of income in Kasese district using a case study of Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union. The study analysis is based on the unique primary and secondary data. Primary data were collected using a structured questionnaire from 85 respondents, while secondary data sources included publications, journal articles, and text books. Data were analyzed using SPSS (version16). Data analysis was conducted using linear and logistic regression models, frequencies, percentages, and description based on qualitative data. This study was motivated by the following objectives: (i) To examine factors that lead to formation of coffee cooperatives. Findings from the study for factors that lead to formation of coffee cooperatives include; to promote solidarity and team work among farmers, to create employment opportunities/ jobs for the member farmers, to promote production of quality coffee, to promote rights for individual member farmers, to help farmers access bigger coffee markets, to provide avenue for credit access for member farmers and to help farmers to access information and appropriate. (ii) To identify factors that influence farmers to participate in cooperative activities. Results indicate that the portion of land that the farmer allocates for coffee production, the educational level of the household head are the key factors that influence a farmer’s decision to become an active participant in coffee cooperative. (iii) To find out the impact of cooperative membership on farmers’ income earned from coffee. Study results reveal higher coffee prices for members of the cooperative, a phenomenon that enhances their incomes. Higher prices of income are attributed to the high quality coffee produced by cooperative members, access to wider market by cooperative farmers. Some of these wider markets include organic fair trade markets, which are inaccessible by individual nonmember farmers. The study therefore recommends that the cooperative management should sensitize youths about the benefits of cooperative membership to encourage them become members as the biggest number of members according to the study results are elderly people above 40 years of age, the government should focus on infrastructural development for example rehabilitation of roads in remote areas to allow farmers transport their coffee to washing stations, cooperative management should subsidize farm inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides so that farmers can access them at a reduced price, and also the management should relax some membership requirements to allow farmers with low quantities of coffee to become members.