By Eddie Ssejjoba
ONE would have expected her to wither after the death of her husband with whom they had lived happily for years, but not Nalongo Winfred Mukinda.
She has put up a fight and pushed forward her dreams long after she lost her husband, Ssalongo Vincent Mukinda Kibibi.
The widow has maintained all the projects on the original 102 acre-piece of land that she co-owned with her husband, 14 years later. Mukinda is the chairperson of Kamazzi ‘A’ LC1 village, Malongo sub-county in Lwengo district.
She has kept her grip on the over 70-acres of farmland on which she rears about 40 cows, goats and sheep. On her other 302 acres, which is for cultivation, Mukinda has grown coffee, matooke, passion fruits, Irish potatoes and other seasonal cash crops such as cassava, beans and maize.
From her talk, you can tell Mukinda is living a happy and fulfilled life, especially when she stands at the extreme end of her backyard and looks at her fields, which stretch and cover almost three hills.
She points at some trees in one extreme end of her land and turns the other side to show you where the land ends.
“Those fields over there are also mine and the crops are ready for harvest,” she says. One wonders how this lady maintains this empire. And she has no plan of selling even a small piece of land and instead looks forward to
extending her empire. On the other side of the hill, she has fertile land which she hires out to farmers to grow seasonal crops.
How she started
Mukinda, a licensed Primary School teacher, combined her savings from teaching with those of her husband, then a carpenter, to buy land in Kamazzi.
Teaching was a white collar job and since she was married, one would not expect Mukinda to leave the job to till the land. She resigned from teaching in 1973 and concentrated on farming. Her husband remained in business, supplying foodstuffs to various organisations.
The couple made a fortune from growing sugarcane and making sugarcane juice which they supplied to waragi brewers. But after his death in 1998, arsonists destroyed their sugarcane plantation by setting it on fire.
Mukinda displays some of the maize she has harvested
This did not kill her spirits and she cleared the sugarcane fields and resorted to growing other crops like coffee. She has planted 13 acres of Robusta and Clonal coffee, though the current yields have been affected by a prolonged dry weather in the area.
Her healthy-looking fields however, will not yield good harvest this season because the beans have withered due to the dry spell.
“I have lost this season’s yield, but I know this is God’s plan, I have hope in the coming seasons, especially now that I have this young she said.
The dry weather in this area has also affected animals since most of the water points have dried up. Mukinda’s wish is that the Government builds for them a big dam that can store water for a long period.
Farmers can use the dam to irrigate their crops, feed animals and for home use. She contributes to employment On average, Mukinda employs about 10 men and 15 women who pick coffee, dig and plant crops and do casual jobs. The number of her staff fluctuates depending on the season.
Two permanent workers look after the cows and goats although occasionally she participates in milking, cutting fodder and watering the animals.
The workers help Mukinda to run the projects when she is busy attending to her leadership roles. She holds different posts in her local community and at the sub-county and district level as well as in schools and Church.
Mukinda soothes CHOGM, one of her cows
Apart from being the LC1 chairperson, Mukinda was also the National Resistance Movement vice-chairperson in Malongo sub-county, but declined to stand again in the last elections to concentrate on her home projects.
She also sits on several school boards and committees and women SACCOs, but would like to resign from most of these positions and spend more time in her garden.
Farmers in her area have lost a sizeable amount of seasonal harvest due to harsh weather conditions since it falls in the cattle dry corridor. Water for the animals is also a problem as is the scarce and expensive labour.
“Farming is in my blood, although I find a lot of challenges that almost discourage me,” she says. The women’s saving group
To overcome these challenges, Mukinda formed the Munnomubyonna Women Group, a savings and credit group with 25 members. She is the chairperson.
The group started in 2005 with an aim of boosting local women farmers by learning from each other new methods of improving crop yields, borrowing and saving.
The group has so far saved sh2m and gives out loans, ranging between sh100,000 to sh400,000 to members, Members are free to use the money to attend to their pressing needs, but the majority use it to buy improved seeds, fertilisers and paying their workers.
Mukinda is also a member of the District Agricultural Technical Committee and is leading fellow women in a campaign to diversify from the main cash crops into growing passion fruits.
She says the crop has a big market and from the tests they have made, it is well-favoured by soils in the area. “Passion fruits can give a daily income to homes unlike other crops that are seasonal,” Mukinda says.
The group has sought assistance from the National Agricultural Advisory
Services for improved varieties of seeds and trainers to give technical advice.
The profits from her farm have enabled her to educate her children single-hand, and many have attained higher education. One of her children is doing a masters’ degree course.
“I have been able to educate my children using money from the projects. I hope to invest in more projects after my children have completed school because I spend alot on school fees,” she says as she soothes one of her cows she named CHOGM.
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS WOMEN ACHIEVER AWARDS 2012: WOMEN IN FOOD SECURITY
Do you know any woman who has worked tirelessly to ensure availability of food for her community? Nominate her by sending her name, her telephone contact, her area/community of operation, what she has done/is doing and your name and telephone contact to,
Woman Achiever 2012,
New Vision, P.O. Box 9815,
Kampala. You can also
Email: email@example.com; or
By SMS type achiever (space) her name and telephone number, and send to 8338