In 2006, a feasibility study was conducted on developing an export- oriented meat industry in Uganda which established that the meat sector did not meet the minimum requirements for meat export. It also revealed various problems that needed attention like livestock disease, poor market infrastructure, outdated legislation, low financial resources, poor animal identification and traceability systems, weak animal welfare, poor animal breeds, and poor service delivery to farmers, increased middleman interference, and the absence of good abattoirs. The most glaring problem was a complete lack of organised cooperatives.
The report established that the formation of producer cooperatives was the best way for farmers to realize the ‘unmined gold’ that they owned. In response to this, the government established the Uganda Meat Export Development Programme (UMEDP) housed in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). The idea was to put structures in place to improve local livestock marketing and meat export – the most important of which was to mobilise farmers into the formation of primary producer cooperative societies. This is mainly due to the fact that the desired markets require high quality disease-free meat calling for interventions along the value chain to up-grade the standards of meat and meat products.
Farmer cooperatives were therefore seen to be the best vehicle through which such interventions could be effected. Throughout the bigger part of 2008, farmers within the cattle corridor were mobilized and they formed primary meat producers’ cooperative societies. By October 2008, 43 Primary Societies had been registered.
After their formation and registration, 33 societies joined together to form the Uganda Meat Producers Cooperative Union Limited.