By Cynthia Aber
After serving as a security guard at Mukwano Industries two decades ago, Abdul Kasozi quit his job to engage in farming.
He grew up in a family where farming was the main source of livelihood.
“We are subsistence farmers who grow rice, maize, cassava, bananas, sweet potatoes and yams. That is how we raise money to pay our children’s school fees, although we never went far with education,” he says.
“Twenty years back, I stopped working as a security guard when Alikan, our boss at Mukwano left the country. The land was vacant and his children were abroad and no-one was using the land so I asked him for part of his land and he gave it to me to use it for farming.”
As a young man growing up, Kasozi remembers his friends advising him to embrace agriculture because it guaranteed profits throughout the year and was also a source of food for home consumption.
He goes to his garden along with his wife, Lukiya Nakalanzi, and their children.
“I planted yams, maize, rice, matooke [bananas] to feed the family and sold some to hotels around,” he recalls.
Back then, as his family started to expand, so did the demands. He started utilizing the land he was given to grow more food for sale to be able to pay his children’s school fees.
Part of the income was directed towards his family’s health, as the kids often got sick.
The former security guard works closely with his wife and children. PHOTO/Cynthia Aber
To manage his garden, Kasozi buys seeds and then prepares the land for planting. He grows barley too, which requires soils rich in moisture and with good aeration.
The security guard-turned-farmer grows the barley in the wet season. Since he grows the cereal on a small scale, Kasozi uses pesticides to control the weeds to realize good yields.
To maintain soil fertility, he applies farmyard manure from cow dung and chicken waste.
Fortunately, his garden is in a wetland, which means he does not need irrigation. “I produce crops all year round because of the wetland surrounding the garden.”
Unlike other people who are cursing high food prices, Kasozi has food stores in his home. “There is no food item I buy because I produce everything I need on my garden.”
One of the challenges though is that they have to constantly weed their garden. Kasozi’s wife says they have to do that on a daily basis.
On his part, the former security guard advises the youth to embrace agriculture instead of spending too much time looking for white-collar jobs, which are scarce.
He also calls on people in the formal employment sector to embrace farming as an income-generating activity.