By Agnes Kyotalengerire
He utilizes every space in his backyard. Indeed an idea that started off as a home vegetable garden in the backyard of the school quarters now fetches Romano Galabuzi a monthly income of about sh2.7m.
Galabuzi, a physics laboratory attendant at St Mary’s College Kisubi, conceived the idea to grow vegetables way back in 2010 after his mother had visited him. Though Galabuzi wanted to prepare his mother a meal that evening, he did not have any vegetables not even onions in his house.
“It was then that I realized I needed to utilize the small space in my backyard to grow some vegetables for home consumption,” he recalls.
Galabuzi sold the idea to the head teacher of St. Mary’s College Kisubi, Bro. Edward Bukenya, who allowed him to plant the vegetables. He first experimented with about 30 stems of vegetables and greens.
He started selling the surplus of the vegetable garden’s harvest to teachers at school. In a day he would sell between six to eight kilograms at sh500 per kilogram; fetching him between sh100,000 to sh120, 000 a month; which was a fairly good boost to his salary.
This motivated him to grow more vegetables and in the third term, the harvest increased and he started supplying the school kitchen.
“I would supply 70 to 80 kilograms every Saturday at sh500 each, giving me an income of sh40, 000 in addition to selling the vegetables to the teachers in the course of the week.
Later, Galabuzi requested the head teacher for more space in the backyard. He cleared the rubbish, prepared the land and planted cabbage which he also sold to teachers on a weekly basis.
By third term 2010, Galabuzi had saved sh690, 000 and he chose to invest it in rearing chicken. He started off with 100 broilers and sold them off after eight months at sh740, 000. He ploughed back the profit sh50, 000 gained from growing more vegetables, and restocked more broilers. He later sold them off to restaurants around. He later ventured into rearing layers.
Galabuzi’s love for agriculture stems from the training he acquired while in school. He attended Kakobe Primary school in Masaka. He went to Kigando SS in Kiboga for his secondary school education before joining Brothers of St Amans in Kisubi. Upon completion at St Amans Bothers, he linked up with Kulika Charitable Trust in Nsambya who took him for a one week training in farming at Kamenyamigo in Mbarara.
Galabuzi has attended several personal development workshops equipping him with skills. At the beginning of 2012, he got the opportunity to attend the personal development training for teachers of science and laboratory attendants organized by Uganda Science Education Program a non-profit making organization.
According to the needs assessment done by USEP in 2009, it was discovered that most teachers in Uganda are not satisfied with the salaries they earn; hence many have resorted to part-timing in many schools to make ends meet.
However, this greatly impacts negatively on the teaching and learning of sciences. In response to this challenge, USEP incorporated personal development trainings.
The training aimed at equipping teachers with skills to set up income generating projects alongside their salaries. As part of the training activities, the teachers also visited Mukono Zonal Agriculture Research Development Institute for the hands on experience.
At the green house at Muzarde, he learnt better methods of growing bananas and tomatoes.
Equipped with the skills, Galabuzi requested for more space, he cleared it and planted bananas and tomatoes. In a period of seven months, Galabuzi has already harvested five bunches of matooke and sold each at sh20, 000.
Later in the year, Galabuzi went through another phase of personal development training. He visited a farm in Namugongo and got ideas on how grow cabbages, eggplants and green-pepper. He requested for space behind the Advanced level dormitory and planted green pepper, egg plants, tomatoes and beans. In just two months the vegetables had fetched him an income of about sh1.5m
Galabuzi said he ventured into growing vegetables because they fetch quick money, in just a period of 2 to 3 months; he is already harvesting and lining his wallet with money. To have continuity of supply and steady flow of income, Galabuzi plants the vegetables is phases.
However, the challenging bit is the dry weather which reduces the amount and quality of vegetables and consequently the amount of money. Sometimes he is sold expired herbicides which destroy the vegetables upon spraying.
Galabuzi is paid in a lumpsum at the beginning of the term for the items he supplies in any previous term. This way, the vegetable project has managed to provide capital for the motorcycle business. From the savings, Galabuzi has bought 15 motorcycles which he sells to motorcyclists on a loan basis. They pay in installments of sh10, 000 per day for 14 months.
This way he is able to make profit of sh1.8m on top of the sh3m cost of buying the motorcycles. Out of 15 motorcycles, eight are operating and a month they fetch him income of about sh2.4m in addition to a monthly income of between sh250, 000 to sh30o,000; which is generated by the vegetable sales.
Balancing work and vegetable project
Running his vegetable and motorcycle projects does not interfere with Galabuzi’s school activities.
Gerald Akwahire, the bursar at school, says the vegetable and motorcycle projects do not interfere with Galabuzi’s school work.
“He is always available in the laboratory preparing for practical lessons and available is also always available for consultation,” Akwahire says.
Fred Namonyo, a chief cook at the school, says Galabuzi does his work as assigned by the school. “Galabuzi only attends to his vegetable gardens in the evening after work, and during weekends,” Akwahire says.
Namonyo says the vegetable gardens have helped to clear bushes around school. Galabuzi has not employed any workers. He only hires few whenever there is a lot of work to be done on the gardens.
Currently, Galabuzi is utilizing every bit of space in the back yard of the staff quarters and in the school to grow vegetables and supplement his salary. “Whenever I see unutilized piece of land, I equate it to money lost,” he says.
Galabuzi plans to buy land and set up a large scale banana plantation to increase on production capacity and sales. He advises fellow teachers to utilise the small plots in their backyards to generate income.