Minting money from maize growing
Posted Tuesday, January 29 2013 at 02:00
Progressive growth. For 20 years Katusiime has been a farmer with progressive growth from peasantry to commercial farming.
After completing her Primary Seven in 1992, Margaret Katusiime was told she could no longer attend school. The farming that had pushed her thus far had started getting challenges so she was forced to join her parents at an early age in tilling land.
The prices of maize, which had for long sustained the family’s livelihood had started falling thus there was need to put together some collective energy to boost quantity.
“The instability of corn prices was partly blamed on the poor breed, which reduced the harvest to about three bags from about two acres,” says Katusiime, a farmer in Kisekura in Masindi.
However, today she says she can harvest 10 bags from the same piece of land considering that she has since changed farming methods.
“I have been trained on how to space the maize stalks and advised on where I can buy good seeds for planting. My yields have increased and so have my profits. I am a single mother but I can now support my family and my children in school,” Katusiime says.
She adds: “I have learnt to space my crops. I give them a space of seven centimetres by 60 centres as well as using fertilisers and occasionally spray the garden with pesticides,” she shares about the teachings she gets from Kyomya, an agro inputs stockist.
Kyomya runs Kyomya Farm Supply Centre in Masindi Town. He tells me that he deals with approximately 2,500 farmers from the sub counties of Pakanyi, Bwiganga, Masingi Port, Kembe and Kiryadongo, Kitwera, Kaduku and Rukondwa.
Katusiime is one of these many farmers. She says she works from Monday to Saturday from 7am to midday and has done this for the last 20 years even though she admits she’s only beginning to realise the worth of her sweat.
Already, as things begin looking up, she is completing her two-bedroomed house in which she stays with her four children.
Her harvest is pushing her dreams higher. “I can now harvest 10 bags of maize from which I can save a profit of Shs1.5 million per season. This helps me educate my children and pay for other plots that cost about Shs300, 000. 100 by 50 decimal. I am also able to save a little in the women’s Sacco,” she explains.
Besides maize she also groundnuts, beans, cassava and sweet potatoes, which she says helps her minimise her expenditure on foodstuffs for the family.
Lending a hand
According to Kyomya Usaid Lead has helped to build up relationships with farmers.
But when Katusiime as a farmer is happy, Kyomya is happy too. More farmers buy his produce and he has been able to even expand and open a new supply shop in a space of nine months.
Kyomya attributes his success to Usaid-Lead, the Livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development, a Usaid project vehicle for transforming Uganda’s agricultural sector and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Elly Kyaligonza Usaid-Lead’s field officer in Masindi says their facilitative approach strategy seeks to achieve sustainable impacts for large numbers of smallholder farmers by helping traders and input retailers improve customer service and supply management.
This can be done through offering farmers greater access to information to products and services that can improve productivity.
“We work with inputs stockists like John Kyomya, guiding them to recruit agents such as Katusime . Through the agents, good farm supplies like seeds, agriculture tools, genuine pesticides and fertilisers get to small holder farmers so that they can get good produce and high yields at the end of the season,” adds Ronnie Ntambi, the Usaid lead’s communication consultant.
“I am able to sell supplies to farmers and make a profit of Shs3.5 million during the peak season between March and May and Shs500,000 if the season has been really bad. Farmers keep coming to me because I sell genuine products,” Kyomya explains.
Kyomya employs two people in his two outlets. He pays the attendants Shs100, 000 each and then an accountant who comes in once in a while to audit. He pays him Shs500, 000.
“If my profits are good next season, I would like to buy a mobile van so that I can reach out to more farmers, and also expand my web as an agent. This will of course mean more money,” Kyomya who has been a stockist for 10 years now, adds. He also doubles as a farmer.
“I also grow maize and when Usaid started teaching us about improved farming practices, I was quick to implement them and before long more farmers were visiting my farm to seek advice . That is when I directed them to my shops,” he adds with a smile of satisfaction.