HE started out with just a hand hoe and lots of big dreams. Today, Sula Bamutale is looking forward to harvesting 20 acres of sweet potatoes
By Umar Nsubuga
HE started out with just a hand hoe and lots of big dreams. Today, Sula Bamutale is looking forward to harvesting 20 acres of sweet potatoes, one and half of tomatoes and one and half acre of eggplants.
How he started
Before he took up farming, Bamutale was a truck driver for more than eight years. Although he used to work 24 hours a day, his boss did not appreciate his efforts and out of frustration, he quit the job.
"I took a drastic decision to go into full scale farming. My friends thought I was joking when I shared with them my plan to leave driving", he recalls.
Bamutale approached Hajj Isaac Mulindwa, a landlord and asked him to lease him some land to grow sweet potatoes.
At first he leased 10 acres, each at sh100,000 a year off Semuto-Kapeeka road, about 10 miles from Matugga town.
"In the beginning I had no money for hiring workers, so I did all the work with the help of my family", he says.
"It was bushy with a lot of snakes", Bamutale recalls. From a monthly salary, Bamutale now had to wait for five months to get some money that is if the harvest was good.
To survive, he sold off some of his property, including two bicycles which his children used to ride to school.
The first time he planted sweet potatoes, the harvest was discouraging. "The second time I planted 10 acres and I harvested two trucks", he says.
That is when Bamutale realised that potato sweetness was not just restricted to the mouth, but could be extended to the pocket too!
He sells his sweet potatoes on markets in Matugga, Bwaise, and Kalerwe. He also sells some locally in Gombe.
Benefits from sweet potato growing
Using the proceeds from selling sweet potatoes, Bamutale leased more land to expand his farm to its current size of 23 acres.
The trick behind successful sweet potato growing according to Bamutale, is continuous planting. While some of Bumutale's workers are harvesting the mature sweet potatoes, others are planting a new crop.
Every day Bamutale harvest about one pick-up truck of sweet potatoes. He sells each 50kg between Sh25,000-35,000.
Few people in Bamutale's village grow sweet potatoes because, according to them. It takes a long time to mature, and is prone to attacks by pests. But Bamutale believes the returns are higher than the risks.
From growing sweet potatoes, Bamutale has managed to educate tow of his children up to university level, on top of providing for his family.
He also ventured into egg plants and tomatoes. Bamutale currently employs 20 workers. "This is like a dream for me, being able to produce and employ so many people ", he says.
"I want to get a tractor, start a demonstration farm.
Bamutale plans to buy his own pick-up trucks so that he can cheaply transport his produce to the market.
Bamutale is tasting sweet money from potatoes