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Tuesday,September 22,2020 18:34 PM

TAKING FARMING AS A PROFESSION PAYS OFF

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th June 2009 03:00 AM

A 50-YEAR-OLD man carrying a black book suddenly rides into the compound. “I am a busy man,” Godfrey Kizito Kiwugu says. I had been waiting for him for over 20 minutes. When I parked in his compound, I was amazed by the lush pineapple shamba beyond

A 50-YEAR-OLD man carrying a black book suddenly rides into the compound. “I am a busy man,” Godfrey Kizito Kiwugu says. I had been waiting for him for over 20 minutes. When I parked in his compound, I was amazed by the lush pineapple shamba beyond

BY JOSHUA KATO

A 50-YEAR-OLD man carrying a black book suddenly rides into the compound. “I am a busy man,” Godfrey Kizito Kiwugu says. I had been waiting for him for over 20 minutes. When I parked in his compound, I was amazed by the lush pineapple shamba beyond the compound and well-kept coffee trees to the right. The zero-grazing cattle also looked good. Kiwugu’s 50-acre farm is located near Kangulumira town, off the Kangulumira-Kalagala Falls road.

As we walk around the farm, bicycles laden with huge bunches of matooke are leaving the farm. They are coming from the well-kept banana shamba after the small path. The talkative and assertive Kizito is a ‘professional’ farmer and prides himself in that. He is a lead farmer under the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Prosperity for All programme. People come from everywhere to get farming tips from him.

“I have 50 acres,” Kizito says. On this land, he has pineapples, banana shambas, a wood lot, which he uses a source of wood for the farm, coffee and root crops. He also has ground nuts, sugar-canes and maize. “I handle my farm like a professional. This is my professional job,” he stresses.

But until 1993, Godfrey Kizito was a small farmer. “I had coffee, but it was destroyed by the notorious coffee wilt,” he says. He also had a few pineapples on the land.

When he decided to make farming a profession, he changed the way he handled it. “I started seeking better ways of growing crops. I went to seminars in other parts of the country. Immediately, I got offers of farming seminars outside the country,” he says. In a short time, he was among the opinion leaders in farming and was one of the most respected personalities in the village.

The results were almost immediate. Gradually, his earnings increased due to increased use of better farming methods. At the moment according to his records, he earns close to sh20m every year.

“I learnt how to space my pineapples. I also learnt that when you plant a new shamba every after six months, for example, you can harvest throughout the year,” he explains.

While other farmers are waiting for a single harvesting season, Kizito can harvest more times.

The pineapples are meticulously covered with coffee husks. Kizito says coffee husks are food for the pineapples. “If you do not have coffee husks, you cannot grow pineapples.” The husks are got from as far as Busoga. He also says nitrogen-providing plants like beans are good for pineapples. “In between the next planting season, I use grow beans because this will help the soil get more nitrogen.” Napier grass is also planted to reduce soil erosion.

“We have been selling the pineapple to buyers in Kampala, Sudan and Kenya. Those who take them to Kenya and Sudan pay the highest price. Some of the Kenya and Sudan-bound traders buy pineapple shambas in advance,” he says. A medium-size pineapple goes for around sh800 at the farm.

The banana shamba is impressive. Almost each of the over 2,500 plants has got at least two huge bunches. “I have maintained this shamba well because I practice good methods,” he says. The shamba is well-mulched with drying grass and drying banana leaves. There are gullies and bits of Napier grass that stop erosion in the shamba. Among the banana varieties he has is the highly-preferred Mpologoma. Plants with bunches are kept from falling using poles got from the woodlot to the south of the farm. The average bunch costs sh6,000. Kizito harvests 20-30 bunches every week.

“There is no shortage of market for my bananas. I sell them to the hotels in Kangulumira and Kayunga towns. The rest are consumed by people around,” he says. There is also a growing market for bananas in Sudan and Kizito has already got the necessary contacts.

The coffee shamba is also a good example of good management every farmer should adopt. The shamba has enough shades provided by trees that were planted for that purpose. Every season, he harvests about 100 bags of coffee. But this well-maintained shamba did not come on a silver platter. He worked for it. “When the wilt affected my coffee years ago, I thought I would never have coffee again. I cut down the affected trees and started planting again. I got clonal coffee trees from breeders and planted again. These are the fruits,” he says.

With a stable production of pineapples, Kizito and his fellow farmers in the area started processing pineapple juice and wine. Just like President Yoweri Museveni emphasises, Kizito says as long as farmers are selling produce without adding value to it, they are acting as ‘donors.’ “We need to stop this donation business and sell real value,” Kizito says. As far as pineapples are concerned, the real value lies in producing juice and wines.

A few years ago, with assistance from a Japanese organisation, a fruit refinery was set up near Kizito’s farm. “This was a cottage factory intended to help us add value to our produce by producing juice, wines and dried fruits,” he says. Although they are producing the wines and juices, it is not at the level they had anticipated.

“We are still faced with numerous challenges. For example, we do not have a mechanical juice extractor, so we extract the juice manually,” he laments. Using the manual method, it is difficult for a person to extract juice from 10 pineapples in a day. “Pineapples are acidic. They affect the hands if a person uses the manual method,” Kizito emphasises.

The factory also lacks sufficient packaging materials. They have few crates. The wine bottles and caps for sealing the bottles are imported. “We need to be assisted to acquire a juice extractor,” Kizito appeals to NAADS.

FACTFILE
Name: Godfrey Kizito Kiwugu
Location of farm: Kangulumira, Kayunga district
Products and Produce: Bananas, coffee, pineapples, juice and wine production
Year of commencement: 1993.
Market: Kampala, Kenya and Sudan
Winning formula: Turning farming into a profession
Contact: 0782303888


[If you are a farmer or if you know of somebody who has gained from farming and is ready to share his/her experience, please write to business@newvision.co.ug or call 0414-337000]

TAKING FARMING AS A PROFESSION PAYS OFF

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