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HE SURVIVED TWO WARS, NOW HE EARNS SH50M PER YEAR

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd June 2009 03:00 AM

AT his home, we were welcomed by his wife under a big mango tree shade. He had gone to Soroti, 40km away from Amuria district, to purchase farm inputs.

AT his home, we were welcomed by his wife under a big mango tree shade. He had gone to Soroti, 40km away from Amuria district, to purchase farm inputs.

BY FREDERICK WOMAKUYU

AT his home, we were welcomed by his wife under a big mango tree shade. He had gone to Soroti, 40km away from Amuria district, to purchase farm inputs.

After waiting for about 20 minutes in vain, we toured pineapples, goats, citrus fruits, cassava and poultry projects that have turned Vance Omome, a 68-year-old retired teacher from scavenging for his paltry pension, to earning sh50m annually.

In just nine years, Omome has built two houses, educated all his 12 children, bought a motorcycle, groundnut mill and has access to quality health care for himself and his family in top hospitals in Uganda.

Omome’s success didn’t come on a silver platter. Born in Ajali parish, Amuria district in north-eastern Uganda, Omome lost his mother when he was two years old. He was raised by a single father who was a a teacher. His father instilled discipline and hard work in his children.

“Inspired by my father, I joined teaching as a Grade II teacher in Amuria up to 1970. I went for upgrading to Grade III up to 1975 and later served as a teacher and headmaster in several schools in Uganda,” Omome explains.

He taught for 40 years and retired in 2000. “When I retired, I realised I had wasted a lot of time without preparing for my exit. I loved teaching and only produced food for home consumption,” he adds.

When the Uganda Peoples Army (UPA) rebels based in Teso declared war against the government in 1987, he had 12 acres of cassava.

“Rebels and fleeing people fed on my cassava until the war ended. Unfortunately, they destroyed my house, accusing me of being President Yoweri Museveni’s cadre,” Omome recalls.

By then, all teachers in Uganda had enrolled at Kyankwanzi Political Training School for political awareness. “The rebels alleged that all teachers were Museveni’s cadres and against the people of Teso. They tried to kill me, but I survived,” he says.

When Omome returned home in 2001, using the money he had saved as a teacher (about sh100,000), he planted 1,000 pineapples on 1.5 acres of land, rehabilitated his cassava on the 12 acres and budded 200 oranges on 1.5 acres.

“When I was about to harvest the first fruits in 2003, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels attacked the region and I had to flee. They destroyed and ate everything,” he recalls.

Omome went back to his farm in 2005.

“We replaced the oranges with about 400 trees and also planted 1,000 banana stems. We started harvesting the oranges in 2006.”

He harvested 25 bags and sold each at sh20,000, raising sh500,000. This was a low harvest since the farm was recovering from destruction by the rebels. However, in 2008, he harvested 400 bags and sold each at sh25,000, making sh10m.

He also harvested eight bags of rice and 30 bags of groundnuts and sold each at sh150,000 and sh120,000 respectively after shelling.

Omome sells his produce to traders in Kampala, Soroti and Mbale.

“By the time the President visited us last year, I was making sh50m annually from bananas, pineapples, oranges and food crops like cassava and millet,” he says.

Omome used the sh50m to build two permanent houses, purchase a grinding mill for shelling groundnuts and also help educate children of his relatives since his are through with school.

He has also started a goat multiplication project and his aim is to cross breed local varieties with an exotic he-goat to get improved varieties.

“I was given a he-goat by a farmers’ forum in Teso in 2005. I started with 10 goats, but now I have 20 cross breeds,” he adds. “The he-goat produces twins and when we start selling, we expect to earn sh250,000 per goat.”

Omome also has a cross breed cock that has ‘fathered’ 70 offspring. Rather than sell the poultry, he eats them and also gives them to people who work on his farm as payment.

“The challenge of my project is that I spend sh20,000 per day to pay about 10 people to manage it. Drought is common and sometimes the crops dry,” he explains.

Although President Museveni promised to construct a dam to provide water for irrigation to the community, Omome requests the President to construct for him a borehole to provide water for farming.

He said the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) has also promised to give him pesticides to control pests that have destroyed his citrus fruits.

“The President also directed NAADS to give me 260 seedlings of oranges. That will bring the total to 860. By the time they mature, I will be having 1,000 orange trees, which I will be comfortable maintaining,” he stresses.

Omome also plans to increase the number of goats to 50 and purchase 10 local cows.

“The President gave me sh3m to purchase heifers. I am building a house for the heifers and when it is finished, I will buy the heifers,” he said.

He plans to cultivate about 500 acres of cassava out of the 1,000 acres of land he owns. “But if we get help, we shall cultivate the whole land and plant sorghum, groundnuts and pawpaws. I also plan to plant about 100 improved mangoes by the end of the year,” Omome adds.

Recently, Omome was selected by the NAADS Amuria branch as a model farmer and he is happy that he will transfer his farming knowledge to others.

“I am appealing to the Government to assist the farmers with farm implements. The farmers here want to open land, but even the whole district has no tractor for hire. We use bulls and it is difficult to open large portions of land. If the Government can also provide us with a truck for transporting our produce, access to market will be easy.”

FACT FILE
• Farmer: Vance Omome, Ajali parish, Missionary Village, Amuria district, about 600km from Kampala, north-eastern Uganda
•Project: Pineapples, rice, citrus fruits, groundnuts, bananas, cross breeding of exotic he-goats with local ones and poultry farming
• Started with sh100,000 and now earns sh50m annually
•Contact: +256782453238.
• Market: Kampala, Mbale and Soroti

HE SURVIVED TWO WARS, NOW HE EARNS SH50M PER YEAR

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