A model farmer has advised Members of Parliament to support people in their constituencies who have established businesses to help them grow rather than giving out money to those without investments because they will misuse it.
This was during a benchmarking visit for National Resistance Movement regional whips and dean of Independents led by the Government Chief Whip, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, at Kana farm in Rwengaju Sub-county in Kabarole District last Friday. President Museveni organised the visit.
Mr Richard Nyakana, the owner of the farm, said MPs should support people who have started, especially smallholder farmers in their areas.
“If someone has started an initiative, is found of sustaining it, he has the passion, the ability, probably even the skills. So it is better to support such a person to move to another level than giving to one who completely has nothing to show,” Mr Nyakana said.
However, Mr Tayebwa said the business of freebies is no longer the way to go.
“People should know that we nolonger give out free money, that is why those who took Emyooga money must know that they will pay it back, this applies to the parish development model funds,” he said.
Mr Nyakana owns a one-acre model farm with three economic activities such as zero grazing unit of six cows, generating bio gas, manure and vegetable plantations. He employees 15 workers on the farm.
The farmer said he has managed to buy 10 acres of land from the profits of the farm, scaled up the project, and is able to pay school fees for his children.
He told MPs that he trains 15 youth every month and managed to employ some of them. He also produces yogurt from his milk.
Mr Nyakana said in 2009, he started his farm with borrowed capital of Shs3m and now his farm is worth Shs500m.
He decried the poor road network from Rwengaju Sub-county to Fort Portal City, adding that it damages his products while in transit and lack of a milking machine since he is always doing it manually.
Mr Nyakana appealed to government to support training of youth so that they are able to start small and grow big.
“Let government give an opportunity to farmers, especially for the parish development model programme to participate in decision making on what should be done,” Mr Nyakana said.“ For example, in my parish, the only need is to buy appropriate machines for value addition, so if the money comes, the farmers who are the key stakeholders should be given chance to decide on what they want to be done other than leaving it to political leaders and technical team,” he said.
Mr Tayebwa said farmers will be making their own decisions under the parish model project.
“We shall bring money to the people and then they plan for themselves, this will start in the next financial year, a minimum of Shs100m per parish,” he said.
Mr Tayebwa added that about 5,600 parish chiefs are being recruited across the country and will be the accounting officers at parish level.
Legislators’ lessons on the farm
Mr Rwankwene Bataringaya, the Kashari North MP, said one can set up a good enterprising business in a one acre model .
“For a one-acre model to succeed in our different parishes in the country, government has to deliberately invest in one successful farmer so that he becomes a model farmer in that parish so that the people around that farm can always come and learn,” he said. Buvuma Island MP Robert Ndugwa Migadde said one can earn more in one acre than in 10 acres. “What we need to tell our people is that it is not actually about land holding but productivity, specialisation and value addition,” he said. Gomba District Woman MP Sylvia Nayebale said she realised that one can start small. Army representative, Lt Col Charity Bainababo, said one does not have to own a big chunk of land to do commercial agriculture. “We should encourage our people to do what they can in the means they have at hand,” Lt Col Bainababo said.