When Florence Nakulumia, 70, a resident of Musongola village in Bugiri Town Council, retired from teaching at Bugiri Primary School in 1994, she started growing maize on a half an acre.
But one day while in church, she heard the reverend cite the example of mushroom as a profitable business and it piqued her interest to grow them.
“I went to the national agricultural laboratories in Kawanda and bought a kilo of improved mushrooms. This cost me Shs100,000 but I was surprised to earn Shs800,000 after a period of three months,” Nakulumia said.
She is now earning Shs4m in a season of four months and she is pleased to have chosen farming. When she was a teacher, her monthly pay was Shs200,000.
“I am now happy to be a farmer. I wake up very early in the morning to attend to my mushroom garden , inspecting it to see if rats have destroyed any crops and watering it to enable them grow well” she says.
She grows the mushrooms in a grass-thatched house from where she harvests 100 kilogrammes every three months. “Sometimes, I sell these mushrooms locally in Bugiri central market and other nearby places at Shs10,000 per basket. Those are the ones that are not dried,” she says.
After drying the mushrooms and packing them in bags, her eldest son helps transport them for sale in neighbouring Kenya, and to Tanzania and Sudan.
At this level, they are sold for an equivalent of Shs40,000 per kilogramme. “I am now earning over Shs4m every three months,” she said, adding, “This has enabled me cater for my family, educate my grandchildren, and buy agricultural inputs.”
She employs four labourers to help with various farm activities, in addition to harvesting the mature mushrooms.
Each worker is paid Shs70,000 per month. However, challenges faced include price fluctuations during rainy season and destruction of the mushroom by pests like rats.
Last year, Nakulumia was recognised as one of the best perfroming farmers in Bugiri by Naads. In 2010, after attending workshops organised by Naads, Nakulumia was chosen as one of the model farmers in the Bugiri Town Council area. Three years down the road, she is happy that the mushrooms business is rewarding her handsomely.