Burundian smallholder farmers visit MVIWATA on a learning mission

Six representatives of the Burundi’s UHACOM, an apex body of 16 cooperatives dealing with advocacy, marketing to its members in Burundi have visited the National Network for Farmers Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA) on an exchange trip.

The UHACOM- Haguruka Union of Multi-sector Cooperatives is the upper level of cooperative movement based on a farming community structured around groups of farmers in cooperatives at regional or communal level that encourage self help.

The mission was accompanied with another local NGO called ADISO that assists Burundian farmers to develop their autonomy by mobilizing their own resources and work with them to build viable economic models.

Speaking with the representatives of MVIWATA, the UHACOM president Bigiraimana Paschael said that his organization was excited to hear success stories of MVIWATA and thus they wished to visit and learn how they can develop theirs to be able to offer profitable services to its members.

“Ours, is still at the infant stage, our members have numerous challenges. We have come to learn on tactics that we can employ to tackle those challenges,” he said.

Farmers in Burundi, just like their counterparts in Tanzania, are grappling with challenges of lacking capital for their cooperatives, lack of strong farmers’ organization with clear strategy and lack of structured marketing information system for their produces among others.

Responding to the UHACOM request on how MVIWATA could assist their newly established farmers organization grow to an independent and vocal farmers body, the MVIWATA Legal and Policy Officer Stanslaus Nyembea said there were many avenues for the two to work together.

“We are delighted to see that you are looking up to our organization as a role model. We think we can develop learning platforms from each other even through exhibitions,” he said.

By being members to regional and international farmers’orgaisations such as EAFF, EASAF, La via campensina, East Africa Community (EAC), our challenges and concerns are aired unanimously.”

Among other things, for three consecutive days, the mission got opportunity to know MVIWATA history, structure, functions as well as visiting farmers groups at grassroots level around Kinole and Nyandira markets/villages.

The UHACOM was founded in 2014, it comprised of 16 cooperatives scattered in four regions of Burundi which are made with small farmers groups dealing with producing and processing crops such as coffee, onions beans, maize and rice etc.

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Burundian farmers cooperative representatives posing for a group photo with their host MVIWATA officials

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