By Jackson Okoth
As the State mulls re-opening the moribund Kisumu Cotton Mills in a bid to revive the textile industry, focus has turned to the once robust cotton growers’ co-operative societies that either shut or are struggling.
Uyoma Cotton Farmers Co-operative is one of them where wrangles have bedevilled this society for the past 39 years.
Trouble for the co-operative begun when middlemen begun buying cotton directly from members. This led to liquidity problems for the Society, leading to frequent leadership wrangles that have gone on for years.
The cotton industry is a classic case of how meddling by middlemen has led to collapse of many co-operative societies that derived their membership from this sector.
Efforts to liquidate the society has failed since 1982 when the then Commissioner for Co-operatives A.K Birgen put a notice in the Kenya gazette for its liquidation.
A truce appears to have occurred when the World Bank announced that it was to disburse Sh 1.2 billion to the cotton industry in Uyoma, Rarieda Constituency.
According to the area Cooperative Officer, Mary Muyoyo who supervised the elections, the new office established by the society comprises a team that has vowed to bury the hatchet for the sake of cotton farming.
In May this year, the Siaya County Cooperative Director, Samuel Wambisa appointed an interim office to manage the society. This is after financial irregularities and mismanagement issues were reported.
The planned revival of Kicomi Cotton Factory in Kisumu is also seen as an incentive for many moribund cotton co-operative societies, to come back to life. The state plans to set up centres of excellence in Nyanza region to spearhead revival of cotton industry with Uyoma in Rarieda Sub-County earmarked as one of the trial grounds.
The Uyoma Farmers Cooperative Society will now be run by Isaac Matthew as the new chairman, Henry Ouko- assistant chair, Zedekiah Adul-secretary and Prisca Otieno as the new treasurer.