Youth strikes gold in farming

Nsubuga’s initiative has quickly paid off, with his monthly earnings from the farming now delivering almost 100 per cent more than he would have been earning in the city, writes Lominda Afedraru

Nsubuga fixing drip irrigation bottles around the orange plant at his farm in Mukono District. Photo by Lominda Afedraru 

BY Lominda Afedraru

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Unlike most youth who like living in cities gambling and doing petty jobs, some are beginning to realise the importance of farming.

A good number have taken farming as a business initiative where they are able to utilise the proceeds to push on with their education career.
This is applying very well for youth who are focused to pursue their studies yet their parents are not willing to help them.

Nsubuga’s journey
One such youth is Hudson Nsubuga, 20, from Kiragira Village in Mukono District who abandoned city life and embarked on farming.

Nsubuga lived his life from childhood with his grandmother in Kampala with passion in pursing his education. He began paying his school fees right from primary until when he completed Advanced Level two years ago.

Throughout this period, he has been engaged in casual labour work with well-wishers and being a friendly child, people would give him handout cash to pay his tuition.

When he reached Senior Four, he started doing part time work as a taxi conductor for purposes of raising school fees.

Starts farming
However, upon completing advanced level, one of the elders in his village who happens to be the chairperson of Mukono Family Farmers Association ,Job Mpaata advised him to come back to the village and engage in farming.

Mpaata talked to Nsubuga’s father to give him a piece of land to start farming which was done.

“I am grateful to Mpaata because when I came here I found people are progressing with farming, especially those who have embraced climate smart agriculture. My father gave me seven acres of land and I have planted the East African highland banana and oranges. Under the farmers’ association, I am chairperson of Mukono Youth Farmers Association comprising 250 members,” he explains.

Other enterprises
As youth, the group has farm enterprises such as piggery, poultry while others grow vegetables, pepper and keep piggery and poultry.
They have a joint piggery project comprising 120 pigs and they use the droppings as manure.

The youth obtained the initial piglets from a project under National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) where they were given 12 piglets which have so far multiplied.

They were taught how to apply the Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMO) for rearing pigs.

The IMO enables piglets to multiply faster.
Under this initiative, they are tasked to sensitise other youth groups to whom they end up donating six piglets and the circle continues.
Nsubuga is hoping to enroll for university education after his sister completes her studies in two years.

Soil management
The youth group obtained skills in climate smart agriculture from Mukono Family Farmers Association were they are taught to practice permanent soil basin system in order to conserve water during the dry season for plants to grow well.

Other components are digging contours in their farms for absorption of water and zero tillage as a sustainable land management practice.

Practices drip irrigation
On his orange farm comprising one acre, he is practicing bottled drip irrigation.
The village is prone to prolonged drought.
He fills water in mineral bottles whose tops have tiny holes and they are inserted into the soil close to the plant.
The water will take three days dripping into the soil making it remain moist.

For both crops, he cultivated permanent basins for planting the seedlings because this technology can absorb and hold water for three months before evaporating.

This enables the roots to penetrate deeper into the soil which is a good feeder to the plants, resulting to higher yields.

The plants will also be sustained for a period of three months during times of drought.

Permanent soil basins also cause the seedlings to germinate and grow faster because the water would have been absorbed 2.5ft deep meaning it does not evaporate easily.

Advice to youth
Nsubuga urges youth who are engaged in petty jobs in the city to try agriculture.
His group has a youth saving scheme where they contribute regularly.
The group usually sells piglets at Shs100,000 each. They try as much to maintain the number of mature pigs at 120.

Training
Since Nsubuga had enthusiasm to go farming, he attended sensitisation meetings. One of them is where they were trained to practice climate smart agriculture by experts at Kamenyamigo Agriculture Research Institute in Masaka.

At the institute, he also learnt grafting of orange seedlings from a group of farmers growing the plant at Kamuli.

Plants oranges
Nsubuga obtained orange plantlets from Kamuli which he used for grafting.
He spent Shs70,000 to acquire knowledge on conservation in agriculture.
The parent seedlings of his banana plantation were obtained from his mother and he has since multiplied the seedlings using tissue culture.

Nsubuga’s plants are one year old in the field, he is soon beginning to harvest bunches of Matooke which are almost ready and his oranges have begun fruiting.

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