Alice Najjemba is a 50-year-old mixed farmer who lives in Kanyogoga village, Bukooba Parish, Ssekanyonyi Sub-county in Mityana District.
She was a sugarcane farmer before shifting to vegetable and coffee farming.
Najjemba explains that the decision to drop sugarcane farming for vegetables resulted from the lower prices that were being offered by sugarcane buyers last year following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Around May last year, the brokers who were buying my sugarcane started paying me half of the money. Later, they said they had reduced the cost of one truck, yet I had mobilised three trucks”, says Najjemba. Such a scene forced her to look out for an alternative income-generating activity to sustain her family. Following the loss of sugarcane growing, she realised she wasn’t able to effectively provide for her family.
“We could not afford all the basic needs for our home, and yet I had to save school fees for the next school opening and some basic needs that would be needed at school so I had to work hard,” she added.
Najjemba says when she heard of vegetable growing of incomes, she didn’t see much money coming out of the project. This project was being promoted by the South Korean government through the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in partnership with the Mpigi and Mityana district local governments.
The partnership, according to the project manager, Jenya Bae, was aimed at supporting farmers in the two districts through training to impart skills that can help them increase household incomes in addition to introducing farmers to some farming projects that can help one to harvest money in the shortest time possible.
Some of the trainings imparted to farmers like Najjemba include mindset change, business canvas, how to grow horticulture profitably, among others, which have enabled her to kickstart her project.
Armed with skills on vegetables, she has since turned half an acre of her garden into a vegetable production area, growing vegetables such as dodo, eggplants, cabbages and green pepper. During harvest time, which usually is three months after planting, she sells vegetables worth Shs120,000.
A bag of eggplants goes for Shs15,000 of which in a week, she harvests two bags, a bundle of Nakati goes for between Shs30 and Shs50,000 and in a week, she harvests two bundles in addition to spinach and eggplants.
She, however, calls for a water supply system to help farmers with irrigation if they are to grow the vegetables all year round.