I am Peterson Nyombi, the proprietor of Nyonyi Integrated Intensive Farm located in Busimbi Railway village in Mityana Town Council, Mityana District. I am also a presidential adviser on agriculture. On my farm, I grow mangoes, oranges, guavas and pawpaws on commercial scale.
My interest in fruits began in 1990, when I completed my Diploma in Agriculture from Arapai Agricultural College in Soroti District. I wanted to practice what I had learnt but I wanted something with high market value. I decided on mangoes, oranges and guavas, which had a better market but were in short supply.
Because there were no fruit farmers in the area, most of the fruits consumed here were brought in by traders from places such as Soroti, Kamuli, Kaberamaido, and Gulu. Therefore, the market availability coupled with suitability of the area in terms of fertile soils gave me encouragement to grow fruits.
The proximity to urban centres like Kampala, Mubende, Mityana and in other neighbouring districts was also an advantage as these could provide a ready market to the fruits.
I started with five acres of land, which I bought using my savings. I cleared the land by removing the trees. Since the area had a slope, furrows were set up to deal with water run-off and prevent soil erosion.
Mangoes were planted on two acres, oranges were on two acres, and guavas on a half an acre, which amounted to four and a half acres. In total, there were 600 mangoes and 400 oranges.
The spacing for mangoes should be 30 by 30 feet while for oranges and guavas it should be 15 by 15 feet. Proper spacing while planting fruits is important because if it is not followed, the trees will not grow properly and fruiting will be poor.
Mangoes were put in pits of three by three feet while for oranges and guavas were in pits of two by two feet, and used farm yard manure. I got the manure, which included cow dung and plant left overs from zero-grazing dairy farmers.
I bought fruit seedlings from the Kawanda agricultural research institute because I had been told by fruit farmers that they had the best fruit seedling varieties.
Each orange seedling was at Shs200 which was the same for guava at Shs200, and a mango at Shs400. All the seedlings were grafted to make them high yielding, pest and disease resistant and fast maturing. But the price has since shot up; an orange seedling is Shs3,000, guava Shs2,000 and mango Shs4,000.
In all, I spent Shs4m to start; Shs1.8m on seedlings and transport, Shs1.5m on field preparation and planting, Shs250,000 on pesticides and farm yard manure while Shs450,000 was spent on marketing and transporting of the fruits to the market.
The mangoes included Bire variety, which is high yielding despite the fruits being of medium size. From one tree, there at least eight sacks of mangoes a season, which earn about Shs250,000. Each sack is at Shs30,000 on average.
This is when there are a lot of mangoes on the market but when there is less supply, each sack is Shs 40,000 at a farm- gate.
The other is the Tommy variety, which has very big fruits—some weigh two kilogrammes.
It is also fairly high yielding and also paying. Despite their lower yields compared to the Bire, the size of each fruit is at a higher price. For instance, I sell one Bire mango at a farm gate price Shs500 while the Tommy is at Shs800.
Another variety is Zillate, which has big fruits plus being tolerant to drought and pests and diseases. I also grow the apple mango variety; it is very sweet and succulent. It is liked by many customers. The others include Maya, which has fruits that weigh 2kgs, and Ngowe that has fairly big fruits that are also sweet.
After two years, I had my first harvest. From an acre, I got 350 sacks which went at Shs 30,000 each and earned about Shs10.5m. From an acre of oranges.
I got Shs3.1m from selling 212 sacks; each was at Shs15,000. The harvest was small because the orange plants were still young. From the half acre of guavas I earned Shs 620,000 after selling 48 sacks at Shs 13,000 each. I also sold the guavas to buyers in smaller quantities.