▶️ IN THE WEEK THAT WAS: Vision group’s Best Farmers Awards on
NewVision Reporter
Journalist @NewVision

Philip Kalera from Gomba district emerged overall winner of the 2020 Best Farmers competition.

Kalera, 46, the director of Gomba Next Generation Model Farm, was among the 13 winners who were unveiled and honoured during a virtual event held at the Vision Group head offices yesterday.

Under the competition, organised by Vision Group in partnership with the Netherlands Embassy, dfcu Bank, KLM Airlines and Koudjis Nutrition BV, the winners will share sh150m and enjoy a week-long all-expense paid study tour to the Netherlands.

 

 

A high-level five-member jury, headed by former agriculture minister Mrs Victoria Ssekitoleko, selected the winners.

All the 13 best farmers won a study trip to the Netherlands.

The top three farmers, however, won substantial farm investment facilities worth sh100.

 

 

 

 

For coming out top, Kalera received a sh50m cash prize, a plaque and certificate.

“I am so excited that farmers are being recognised for the noble work they are doing to feed the population. Few people appreciate our efforts, which is not good,” Kalera said.

Kalera’s farm sits on 400 acres in Maddu sub-county, Gomba district. The dairy farm has over 200 cows, a banana plantation on 25 acres and over 200 acres of pasture. He says his average gross earnings are in the range of sh600m per year.

“Farming is a rewarding business if you focus and give it time. I am happy, especially for women who have embraced this great profession. I, however, call upon Government to help educate farmers on quality and also help us access foreign markets,” Kalera said.

When he visits the Netherlands, Kalera said he will focus on value-addition and acquiring more machinery for his farm.

 

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda led by Gervase Ndyanabo (R), Vision Group's deputy Managing Director and Company Secretary to her sit.

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda led by Gervase Ndyanabo (R), Vision Group's deputy Managing Director and Company Secretary to her sit.

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda having an interaction

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda having an interaction

Another farmer that won big was Immaculate Akullo from Amolatar district, who emerged second and won a cash prize of sh30m.

Akullo is an apiary farmer. Her farm project sits on 150 acres on the shores of Lake Kyoga.

She has over 200 beehives and 190 head of cattle. She also owns a fairly large honey and apiary products shop in Lira town, where she sells her products.

“This win is for the women, it shows that we have the ability to compete and do what men cannot, sometimes,” Akullo said.

She challenged fellow women to embrace farming as a business if they are to fight poverty.

“If you have land, you are rich. Put the land to good use and give time to your farm.

I am happy to be awarded because this makes my fellow women winners,” Akullo said.

 

Outgoing Vision Group CEO, Robert Kabushenga

Outgoing Vision Group CEO, Robert Kabushenga

Pastor Robert Kayanja

Pastor Robert Kayanja

New Vision's news editor, Hellen Mukiibi

New Vision's news editor, Hellen Mukiibi

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda

 

In third place was Peter Masiko, a prominent apple grower from Kabale district, who walked away with a cash prize of sh20m.

“This award is a recognition of my efforts for 15 years. As winners, we are challenged to polish our trade and improve the way we have been doing things. Let others not only learn from us, but also support us to take farming to another level,” Masiko said.

He has been involved in apple growing for 13 years on six hectares.

“When I go to the Netherlands, I want to acquire more knowledge on how to improve my apples. Many farmers have given up, that is why I want to learn more on how best I can produce apples,” Masiko said.

 

 

The other winners include Joseph Munerya, Ben Amodoi, Samuel Kange, Michael Opiyo Kadogo, Bob Kagoro, Gloria Lwamafa Karungi and Bernard Obaa, a Makerere University lecturer, who is running a successful private tree seedlings venture.

There were also winners for the Women in Farming category, who included Jacent Namyalo Muwanga, Maureen Nyakato and Prossy Kazibwe.

These shared a sh50m cash prize.

Lwamafa described the recognition as an honour and motivation to farmers.

“I do farming as a passion and business, but being recognised makes me feel good. It is not something that comes so easily,” Lwamafa said.

This is the seventh edition of the Best Farmers Competition, bringing the total number of winners to 85. Of these, 59 have already travelled to The Netherlands.

 

 

The competition, which begun in 2014, has seen at least sh1.05b awarded to the farmers.

“I feel good, I have been trying my best to improve my farm, but being awarded is very motivating. I want to thank Vision Group and its partners for this initiative,” said Kagoro.

Ssekitoleko commended women farmers who have embraced agriculture and excelling.

“I am so happy for the women, you are doing a great job and as a competition, we came up with a special category to try and uplift more women,” Ssekitoleko said.

She advised farmers to avoid the “I will do it alone syndrome” but identify the people in the value chain before going into production.

“First, find out what you want to grow, who else is growing it, who is part of the value chain, who will give you quality seeds and who will buy. Do not go into it alone, produce 10 tonnes, then start looking for who will buy the produce,” Ssekitoleko said.

 

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda giving her speech

H.E. Karin Boven (L) the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda giving her speech

The overal winner Philip Kalera posing for a picture with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda, H.E. Karin Boven

The overal winner Philip Kalera posing for a picture with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Uganda, H.E. Karin Boven

The overall winner Philip Kalera posing for a picture with his prizes

The overall winner Philip Kalera posing for a picture with his prizes

The winner, Philip Kalera in a picture moment with sponsors of the competition

The winner, Philip Kalera in a picture moment with sponsors of the competition

 

During the event, Pastor Robert Kayanja was recognised for his contribution to the agriculture sector. Kayanja, who was accompanied by his wife, Jessica Kayanja, has farm in Kiryandongo district.

Other members of the jury included Augustine Mwenda, Josephat Byaruhanga, a senior policy officer on agriculture and agribusiness at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Dr Emma Naluyima, the 2014 Best Farmers winner and Godfrey Okello from dfcu Bank.

Vision Group editor-in-chief Barbara Kaija said the number of participants has increased significantly, meaning many people have embraced farming.

“Over time, we have seen that the love for farming has increased and notably, among the elite. Previously, farming was thought to be for illiterates. Interestingly, a number of corporates are in the gardens now partly because of the continuous exposure to high-quality farming, its value, and benefits we have given through these competitions,” she said.

Kaija said the increasing numbers give hope to the future of the sector, adding that emphasis must now be put on value-addition, certification of products, and adhering to set standards.

 

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