Charles Mukasa Mutyaba of Kyandaaza Village, Byakabanda Sub-county, in Rakai District has a lot of praise for the bean crop.
He is especially happy growing the crop since 2013 together with other farmers in his Ganaafa PHA group because he is assured of a market and a fair price for
They have a contract with CEDO (Community Enterprises Development Organisation) a local NGO that helps farmers improve household incomes, food security and nutrition through sustainable agricultural practices.
Under what is referred to as contract farming, CEDO provides the bean seeds to the farmers in their groups and sends out extension staff to guide the farmers about the best bean production practices --- ground preparation, plant spacing, fertiliser application, weeding, and harvesting among others.
The farmers are bound by the contract to sell the beans to CEDO after harvest at a price both parties agree upon at the signing of the contract.
“Beans grow quickly and they are immediately bought after harvest at the expected price,” he told Seeds of Gold recently during a visit to his farm of about 10 acres.
“Moreover, in case I have any urgent need for money before harvest time, I can apply for advance payment, which comes almost instantly.”
CEDO Programme Manager, Charles Katabalwa, said that the NGO deals with some 80 farmer groups under contract farming in the entire Masaka sub-region.
“We deduct the money worth the seeds we provide to them at the time they hand over to us the harvested beans,” he said.
“A few of them actually default and sell the beans to other buyers but we make up for this by deducting the money from the entire group’s account.”
Mutyaba, 65, is the chairman and founding member of Ganaafa PHA which is an association of people infected or affected by HIV and AIDS in Rakai District. Ganaafa PHA, as he testifies, was the first local anti-HIV association to be registered in the district and has members in nearly all villages across the district.
“I have lived with HIV for 35 years and I am among the first people in this region to openly declare my status and to advocate HIV testing for everyone as well as taking all the necessary precaution to avoid catching the disease,” says Mutyaba.
Mutyaba who is the father of four sons, four daughters and is a husband of an HIV-negative wife, Gertrude, remembers clearly how and when he contracted the disease.
“It was just a case of casual unprotected sex with a young woman in 1984,” he revealed. “Within only two months she fell sick and later died as everyone blamed witchcraft for her death. I had come to check on my land here in Rakai having left my wife and two children in Masindi where I was employed as a clerk at the Uganda Co-operative College Kigumba. It took me some years to accept to be tested and even much longer to tell my wife about my condition. Remember, testing was not readily available as it is today and there were no ARVs.
The big miracle however is that although we continued to get babies after my HIV infection she was never infected with the disease herself, and none of our children was. We are referred to in medical language as a ‘discordant couple’.”
With time he got very concerned about the welfare of his family and particularly the education of his children in case he died of the disease.
Since he had inherited some land he chose to try farming. He grew bananas, coffee, Irish potatoes, and maize.
Man on mission
“I got heavily involved in the promotion of tree planting among farmers, distribution of seed livestock to members of Ganaafa PHA and working hard in order to quickly raise money for school fees and to set up a strong house for the family. However, I often got disappointed when I had to sell off my products at low prices dictated by traders.
My task became a lot easier when we linked up with CEDO some six years ago and began growing beans on contract basis. The children have completed school and two of them are university graduates. We have diversified our economic activities and bought cows which we sell and settle some cash problems. I am also now in the final stages of construction of my dream house.”
He pointed to a navy green corrugated iron roofed building nearing completion.
There are two rainy seasons in a year. Mutyaba said he strives to plant 100 kilogrammes of beans every season and his wife normally plants at least 80 kilogrammes. With sufficient rain and good agronomical practices, a farmer who plants 100 kilogrammes may harvest between 1,500 and 2,000 kilogrammes of beans.
CEDO, which sells the seed beans at Shs2,800 a kilogramme, currently buys a kilogramme of beans from the farmers including Mutyaba at Shs2,000.
Assuming the harvest is good and a farmer gets 20 kilogrammes from each planted kilogramme, the Mutyaba family could end up selling their beans of a single rainy season for Shs7.2m.
A deduction worth the amount of seeds provided by CEDO is made and the farmer is paid the rest of the money.
Mutyaba and his friends mainly grow varieties such as NABE 1 and NABE 5 which according to him are very high yielding.
“With that amount of income, it has been possible for us to invest in cattle keeping, coffee growing and to pay school tuition, and to improve our housing, purchasing solar panels and to set up the main family house that is about to be completed,” he explained.
“The beans we grow are especially bred to be quite nutritious, which means we are assured of good feeding as a household,” Mutyaba says.