By Isaac Baligema
Busoga region is one of the biggest growers of maize in the country, but maize farmers have quit the enterprise complaining of fluctuating market prices.
However, Kamuli-based George Butawawula, 48, who is also the chairperson of Busiba Embago Nzawula Development Association – a group of 102 maize farmers – says that he can never quit maize growing.
The father of 19 children with two wives grows maize on his 10–acre land where he harvests at least 10 tonnes of maize every season.
“I earn sh30m every season. Everything I own comes from maize. What I have in my life, is because of maize growing; how can I quit the practice?” he asks.
Butawawula adds that he has been growing maize for the past 25 years and he involves his family members. He says many people leave villages and move to urban centres complaining that there is no money in rural areas.
“When I hear people saying there is no money in farming, I just wonder. I spend between sh260,000 to sh300,000 on an acre during harvesting period,” he says.
The farmer adds that he earns at least sh1m from each acre. He says farming is a business many people do not take seriously.
From the maize business, he has constructed houses for his two wives and pays school fees for all his children. He bought a pick-up truck last year to help him in transporting his produces to market centres and he is planning to buy more land to expand his farm.
Butawawula also buys maize from other farmers at a lower price. He lobbied and the World Food Programme, gave the group a maize sheller machine, which helps them produce clean maize.
However, it has not been a bed of roses for Butawawula who says the market is fl ooded with fake seeds and fake pesticides.
“It is a big challenge that we request the Government to address urgently,” he says, adding that he is a victim of fake seeds and pesticides that are all over the market.
“I have had to travel to Kampala to get the right seeds and pesticides,” he says.
According to him, fertilisers are becoming increasingly expensive, especially during harvest time. “Few farmers can afford to wait like I do until when the market demand for maize is high.”
Butawawula says many farmers cannot afford bank loans, the reason he encourages his friends to form savings groups.
He encourages young people not to sell their land in villages to rush to urban centres because life in the city is expensive. “I have seen many return from urban centres where they thought life was easy yet they sold their land when they were leaving,” Butawawula adds.
He also advises farmers in rural areas to participate in workshops to learn.