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Rwanda: Agricultural cooperative leaders urged to reconcile

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The Rwandan Agriculture state minister Fulgence Nsengiyumva has asked cooperatives to foster good working relations between new and former leaders, saying it is one of the tools to overcome challenges, especially of poor administration.

The minister made the remarks at the 30th-anniversary celebrations of CO-DERVAM, a rice growers’ cooperative of Cyabayaga Marshland, Rukomo Sector, Nyagatare District, in Eastern Province on Monday.

Nsengiyumva said one way of overcoming administrative problems of cooperatives is to create a strong link between new leaders and former leaders of a cooperative, citing an example of Unity Club.

“Cooperatives is about working together. You ought to work together to have your cooperative prosper just like we have unity clubs at all level of local government,” he said.

“Your former leaders might have been bad leaders but the fact is they were leaders and they have the experience that you don’t have. So, if you bring your new knowledge together with the former leaders’ experience, you can get something far better than keeping in misunderstandings among yourselves and being confined to only past mistakes.”

After a discourse on the history of the cooperative, Celestin Ntamukunzi, the CO-DRVAM president, cited an instance when they owed Rwf309 million in 2012, most of which was legal fines to the cooperative.

Although they have cleared the debt, they have a new case in courts of law and could end up paying Rwf30 million to the plaintiff if they lose.

The minister blamed this on their operation without legal advisors.

“It isn’t practical for a cooperative to engage into business without legal advice. It puts the business at risk,” Nsengiyumva said.

Aisha Umurerwa, the CO-DERVAM accountant, said they have already engaged former leaders of the cooperative.

“Former leaders have been our main advisers about the mistakes they made themselves. In fact, if we hadn’t engaged them in problem solving, we wouldn’t have known how to address some challenges related to their flaws,” Umurerwa said.

CO-DERVAM started operations in 1987. Today, it has 1,335 rice growers who farm the Cyabayaga Marshland in Rukomo, Mukama and Nyagatare sectors of Nyagatare District.

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