Wakiso farmer earns Shs5.4m a month from pepper
Posted Wednesday, December 4 2013 at 00:00
An orphan at 12, Charles Kibuuka dropped out of school and worked on a farm, where he eventually got into growing hot pepper. He told Lawrence Ogwal his story.
I am Charles Kibuuka, 27 years old, a hot pepper farmer based in Namayumba Sub-county, Kyanuna County, Wakiso District. In 1998, when I was in P7, both my parents passed away and there was no one to support me through to secondary school.
I tried going to different schools so that I could be given a bursary and finish my studies but was unsuccessful.
In the neighbourhood, there was a man called Jonathan Sseviira, who had a coffee plantation and he employed me as shamba boy. I was being paid Shs15,000 per month, and I worked there for three years.
Sseviira had children who lived abroad and on coming back to Uganda, they came with seeds to start growing hot pepper.
He told me how hot pepper is good business and would make me some good money. I thought about it but instead sold the idea to my friends. Since I knew some of the customers, I would link them to the buyers and get paid on commission basis.
After five years working as a middle man, I realised I was not making much progress while my friends prospered. For instance, I would make them a deal of over Shs3m and get paid Shs80,000 for it.
So, I decided to start saving money. By 2011, I had saved a significant amount of money, which I used to rent a piece of land at Shs250,000 per year where I started growing hot pepper. With the experience I had, I found hardly any problem starting the business.
After four months, I was able to harvest twice every week for eight months. I linked with one of the buyers I had connected to my friends. He owned a company, Tropical Dynasty, that exported hot pepper. During the eight months, I made Shs45m.
After this, I then looked for another piece of land where I currently operate from. I rent it at Shs200,000 per year. With time, I got to know other exporters and that is how I got into contact with KK Foods Ltd.
Since they offered me a better deal, I decided to work with them. They offered me a contract to sell them all the hot pepper whenever I harvest.
I have been working with KK Foods for almost a year and although I do not operate on a very large scale, I am one of their most regular suppliers.
I deliver 220 to 300 boxes of hot pepper every week, prices fluctuate from Shs17,000 to Shs25,000 per kilogramme. On a monthly basis, I make about Shs10m (Shs1.5m is spent on labour and pesticides; I employ four workers).
I get seeds from the damaged hot pepper from a previous harvest and plant them again. It needs a virgin piece of land and to grow it, it needs the first three months to be during a rainy season, and it takes four months to harvest.
With proceeds from the business, I managed to construct a larger permanent house and relocated from the small house where I used to stay.
Earning a living from a thriving business, it keeps me going strong and knowing that I also offer employment which in turn benefits the workers’ families.