One foot in the corporate world, another on the farm
Posted Wednesday, March 13 2013 at 00:00
At first, farming seemed weird to her as she was into fashion and music but nevertheless, she gave it a try. It was perhaps the best decision she ever made. She told Christine Katende how she swaps high heels for gum boots.
My name is Bettina Tumuhaise Kavuma. I am a music controller at KFM radio and I promote artistes. Besides that, I am a farmer who is undertaking different projects. I got involved in farming three years back after being inspired by a Facebook friend, Farid Karama, he is also into farming.
The idea sounded weird when he introduced it to me. Being a person devoted to fashion, I imagined myself wearing high heels and heading to the farm. But I gave it some more thought and then decided to give it a try; starting with matooke and coffee. After realising the benefits in farming, it was around that time that I shifted my focus to farming.
Initially, I had an eye on land in Luwero but my husband and I decided to buy land in Vumba-Zilobwe on Gayaza Road, which is closer to the city because it would enable us do what we had in mind. Good enough, the five and half acres of land we bought had some matooke and coffee trees on it to start with. So, I applied manure to get more out of it than what I found there.
There are now two and half acres of matooke and three acres of coffee as well as avocado and eucalyptus trees. I also rear poultry and goats. I planted three and half acres of eucalyptus after being tipped that there is money to make from these trees. Where there is money is where I go.
With eucalyptus, I aimed at a long-term income generating activity that is easy to maintain and from which my children will benefit from when they grow up.
Then I added okra (ladies’ fingers) after a friend called me from abroad about a big company that was offering a deal to export it to them. However, I passed on the deal to other farmers because I did not have them at the farm. Recently, he called me again, asking me to send 400 boxes of okra which he will pick from me in a few months’ time.
Apart from the natural challenges of long dry seasons, pests and the unpredictable rains that every farmer talks about, I have a problem of thieves who have concentrated on stealing the coffee hence reducing the expected quantity to be supplied.
There is also lack of a ready and stable market for produce, which has always worried me because I end up selling the products like the matooke at a giveaway prices. With that, it is hard to determine the prices and hence the profits.
I have not registered such big achievement considering the capital I have invested but I am happy that at least, I can still run the farm no matter the situation. On top of being able to pay the workers and meet other costs, I have been able to expand the business.
I am still expanding it and my future plans include growing chilli on part of the land I have set aside. Already, there are the seedlings of chilli in two nursery beds that are yet to be to be transferred.
I decided to diversify my farming to different crops so as to widen the income base.
I also have a three-year plan of setting up an irrigation scheme for watering the crops during the dry seasons.
The other plan is to withdraw from expanding the traditional crops and focus at non-traditional crops like okra and chili that have a wider market and demand aboard.
I would not like to miss out on deals again when I get other orders. But because I cannot venture in almost everything, I am planning to sell off the 17 goats at the farm and invest the money in the new crops.
I am not only looking at exporting okra and chili but also bananas. I sent a sample to Belgium for testing and I am waiting for a confirmation of it being the desired type before I start exporting.