Uwamale farmers’ cooperative was established 15 years ago, in Arumeru district and is part of the Leki Tatu irrigation scheme. The scheme has capacity production of 4000 tons of paddy per year, of which more than 500 tons is attributed to Uwamale. Originally comprising of 15 farmers (4 men and 11 women), the cooperative has grown to 600 rice farmers (169 men and 471 women) since its formation. It started with the objectives to bring together paddy farmers under one entity to address their shared challenges, learn better agricultural practices, improve agricultural skills and increase production.
The cooperative has been able to achieve these objectives and more. In 2018 alone, the cooperative harvested 531.5 tons of rice, with each kilogram selling at an average 1500 Tanzania Shillings and collectedly generated Tanzania Shillings (TZS) 796,500,000 in revenue.
The cooperative accommodates farmers who are both member and non-members. For instance, for the irrigation of the land, member farmers pay a fee of TZS 15,000 per acres, while non-members pay a double, TZS 30,000. The non-members exist mainly due to their lack of awareness regarding cooperative benefits. Previously, the cooperative has also been accused of a lack of transparency which left farmers hesitant to fully commit. To change these attitudes and get more farmers on board as members, Rikolto intervened and appointed a business consultant to change Uwamale cooperative’s negative narrative, create a transparent medium between the cooperative and all stakeholders and explain membership advantages to farmers.