TO many uninformed Ugandans harbouring dreams of making it big abroad, it is illogical to leave the UK in the name of investing in anything but agriculture in Uganda. But that is exactly what Connie Mulondo did after living there for 40 years. Her decision surprised many in the UK and back home. â€œBut I had made-up my mind to return to my motherland,â€ the 67- year old says.
Mulondo was a baby when she went to the UK in 1964. A Pittman college student, she worked at the Uganda high commission, the royal institute for the blind, Paddington Hospital and Imperial Chemical Industries before deciding to call time on her stay in 2004. â€œAll that was kyeyo,â€ Mulondo, who has taken-up commercial agriculture in Bugembe, Jinja says, in her English accent.
Using part of her kyeyo-earned money, Mulondo invested in piggery, poultry and petty farming. She started with 200 chicken and nine pigs, and now has over 200 local and exotic chicken as well as 200 sows and castrated pigs on an eight-acre piece of land.
Mulondo sells a kilo of pork to hoteliers at sh5, 000, earning sh5m a month as gross income. Sh1.5m of this goes to buying feeds, sh1m to six workersâ€™ wages, while sh120, 000 goes to electricity bills and sh200, 000 in water bill costs leaving her with a net income of sh2m.
Mulondo owns a banana plantation that meets the familyâ€™s domestic need.
â€œI dream of being a complete farmer,â€ she says. She intends to plough a bigger part of her land to cultivate maize and beans while expanding her piggery project by building more structures.
Her five-year projection illustrates just how she intends to turn her dream into reality. It includes having between 6, 000 and 10, 000 plants and buy hybrid goats (she has 11 presently).
â€œI should earn more than sh3m per month in five yearsâ€™ time,â€ she says.
I get nosy, asking Mulondo if indeed kyeyo is as profitable as the rumours I have heard. Most Africans, she says, flee their countries of birth to do petty jobs like sweeping snow, washing dogs and catsâ€™ feaces, cars, sweeping and mopping offices.
She adds that farming in the UK is better than in Uganda. In the UK, pigs roam around under a free-range system, she says.
â€œHere in Bugembe,â€ she says, â€œI had to fence them or else thieves have their loot!â€
As a precaution, she tells me as I leave, â€œDonâ€™t publish the story before Christmas day. Thieves will come for the pigs!â€
So far, she has lost 55 angle poles that are cut overnight. As a counter measure, Mulondo plans to buy two guard dogs but fears thieves may also poison them so as to go ahead with their looting.
â€œEven with one-acre of land,â€ she says. â€œI wouldnâ€™t sell it off to go for kyeyo. A Ugandan can do many profitable activities if only the Government addressed a few challenges afflicting farmers.â€ Top on this list includes security, market for farm products as well as advisory services by agencies like National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture.
There is a lot of potential for agriculture to thrive in Uganda, she says. â€œBut I have never seen any one from NAADS come to give us skills on modern farming.â€
Name: Connie Mulondo
Farm location: Bugembe, Jinja
Enterprises: Piggery, poultry and goat rearing
Contact: 0782573048/ 0712499286
She quit kyeyo and now earns sh24m annually