For years Matany Sub-county in Napak District has made a mark for its livestock rearing and rustling.
But as the old adage cautions, you should not put all your eggs in one basket.
Samuel Lote, a 27-year-old resident of Nakicument Village, has seen the wisdom of the maxim and decided to try his hand at vegetable farming and the rewards are there for all to see.
How he started
A lush green vegetation of cabbages, eggplants, green paper, spinach, onions, potatoes and tomatoes that are currently fruiting welcome one.
Lote farms on five acres in total with eggplants occupying one, tomatoes two, green paper half and onions one.
Two workers (his son and wife) are busy on the cabbage and tomato farms going through their paces with precision.
We meet him at his farm some five kilometres from the sub-county headquarters along Soroti – Moroto highway.
Dressed in a yellow T-shirt, green trousers and a pair of black mud boots, Lote has been up since 6am.
From each acre, Lote harvests at least five tonnes of eggplants. “I sell a kilogramme of eggplants at between Shs2,000 and Shs3,000, depending on demand and supply,” says Lote.
Traders flock his farm to buy produce in wholesale and resell in Napak and neighbouring districts such as Kotido, Moroto and Soroti. Sometimes they sell the produce in Mbale District.
Lote gets water from a water dam in Arecek. The Shs3b dam was constructed by government in 2012 to boost and encourage Karimojongs to grow vegetables.
Lote is, however, planning to sink a borehole so that he can be assured of water supply as his agribusiness expands.
Lote, a former cattle rustler started farming in 2010 when the army arrested and took away away his gun which was his bread winner.
Lote inherited the land he is farming on from his father. He later bought farm equipment and seeds. His investment was about Shs500,000.
Since then, he has continued to increase his acreage, but would sell to brokers before he began supplying to the army.
“The fact that I have a ready market not only motivates me, but also saves me the headache of dealing with brokers,” says Lote.
The farmer plants around 10,000 eggplant seedlings every season, and harvests in about three months ensuring that he has steady supply to markets in Moroto, Napak and Soroti districts.
To grow the cabbages, he gets certified seeds from agrovets in Mbale District. “We then establish a nursery bed on which we apply manure from cows and plant with DAP fertiliser,” explains Lote.
The seeds take about four weeks to mature and they later transfer them to the field.
Selling the produce largely depends on the supply and demand curve but on average, cabbages go for Shs500 per a piece, a kilogramme of onions for Shs3000, a kilogramme of tomatoes at Shs4,000 and a kilogramme of eggplants at Shs2500.