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From an acre of land,Tumwebaze raises sh12m for school fees

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th August 2012 07:42 PM

Santrina Tumwebaze, 48, a widow with eight children, two of whom are in university, has managed to look after her family through farming. Every year, she needs sh12m for tution fees, which she raises from growing Irish potatoes on less than an acre of land.

From an acre of land,Tumwebaze raises sh12m for school fees

Santrina Tumwebaze, 48, a widow with eight children, two of whom are in university, has managed to look after her family through farming. Every year, she needs sh12m for tution fees, which she raises from growing Irish potatoes on less than an acre of land.

By Mathias Mugisha
 
Santrina Tumwebaze, 48, a widow with eight children, two of whom are in university, has managed to look after her family through farming. Every year, she needs sh12m for tution fees, which she raises from growing Irish potatoes on less than an acre of land.
 
“Although my husband died a few months ago, I am able to pay sh4m for school fees per term, thanks to my small plot of land,” she says, while wiping sweat off her face with soiled palms in her potato garden in Igabiro Muko in Kabale district.
Her potato garden is her sole source of income courtesy of modern farming practices that she learnt from a project aimed at improving food security in Kabale, Kisoro and Kasese districts. 
 
The $1.8m project, which has been running for many years, is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Global Trust Fund on food security  and safety. The project is funded by the Italian Development Corporation. One of the project’s objectives is to help farmers engage in profitable agricultural systems, increase access to markets, improve the farmers’ incomes and to ensure food security. 
 
How she started
Tumwebaze, who specialised in potato seed farming, says her venture began with a radio announcement in 2009. 
“At the time, I was struggling to make ends meet. I used to harvest only eight bags of potatoes per season and my earnings were meagre. I heard a radio announcement that FAO was training farmers on rapid potato seed multiplication. I enrolled the following day,” she recalls.
 
“I was taught how to look out for suitable soils, seeds, spacing, weeding and the application of fertilisers,’’ Tumwebaze adds. She says after the training, each farmer was given a basket of high-quality seeds for multiplication.
 
Today, from that basket, Tumwebaze harvests an average yield of 80 bags of 120kg each, per acre. Of these, she sets aside 30 bags as potato seeds, which she sells to other farmers at sh120,000 per bag. There are three seasons in a year, which translates into an income of over sh10m per year.

Improved harvests
The improved potato varieties are developed at Kachwekano Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Kabale. The institute addresses the region’s research needs in potatoes, fruits, livestock and traditional crops like sorghum. In partnership with FAO, the institute also develops high-quality potato seeds. 
 
To increase their earnings, farmers have been encouraged to form associations to multiply potato seeds and market their produce. Consequently, there are many farmers’ organisations. 
 
Tumwebaze belongs to Muko Expanded Potato Producers Association, which has 161 members, 111 of whom are women. The association runs a potato store a few kilometres from her home. It is from such stores, for instance, that Nandos, a fast food chain in Kampala, buys most of the potatoes for their franchise.
 

From an acre of land,Tumwebaze raises sh12m for school fees

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