Cooperatives in Uganda date way back in 1913 where due to exploitation of farmers
by the then organized middlemen of Asian origin, four farmers in the current
District of Mubende in the central region of Uganda organized themselves into
the first Agricultural Cooperative Kinakulya “literally meaning that we are finished if
we don’t wake up by working through cooperation”.
In 1920, four groups in the central region also formed a big cooperative group and
from that time we see cooperatives grow at a high and steady pace.
Between 1952 to early 1970”s, cooperative membership grew 8fold, Crop tonnage in
major cash crops: Coffee, Tobacco, Tea and cotton increased 6fold and all these were
in the hands of the cooperatives. A cooperative college was started in 1963 and
cooperative Bank in 1964 with a main objective of delivering quality services to the
cooperative movement that had become an engine of economic growth. By 1965, the
Ugandan economy was in the hands of the cooperative movement and hence the
However, in 1970’s and 1980”s, Uganda went through turmoil of civil wars which
badly affected the operations of cooperatives. Cooperatives lost their Assets, stock and
membership through death. The current NRM government ushered in peace in 1986
and as cooperatives were regrouping and recovering from the shock, structural
adjustment programs of 1990’s like economic liberalization, privatization etc. were
adopted by the government of Uganda which actually exposed cooperatives to
competition from multinational corporations. These economic policies too contributed
to the collapse of the cooperatives. Despite all these challenges, Uganda Cooperative
Alliance (UCA) Ltd has been at the fore front of revitalizing the cooperative movement
and currently there are over 18,000 registered Cooperatives in Uganda.