In Bulemere village, Kisekka Sub County in Lwengo District is where Anthony Mugumya, 50, lives with his wife, six children and a grandchild. He took on farming as his main source of income in 1992, prior to that he was a tailor for seven years.
“I realised it couldn’t sustain me and my family due to the ever increasing demands at home at that time, I decided to take on agriculture,” he says. “From tailoring, I earned approximately Shs200,000 a month.”
When he started, he first grew maize and beans on two acres of land. After eight years of depending on the two crops, he incorporated other activities. “Growing beans and maize provided food for my family but the main challenges were differences in seasons. During rainy seasons, the crops grew well compared to dry seasons when there is less produce,” he explains.
In a good rainy season, Mugumya earned Shs200,000 from maize and Shs700,000 from beans. “Out of the proceeds, I bought one and a half acres at Shs150,000 in 1999 and planted eucalyptus trees,” he says. “I also realised that by depending on one or two products, I would not gain like if I was engaged in several.”
Selected for training
In 1999, World Vision Uganda introduced its activities in Masaka District under the Kaswa Area Development Programme. It sought to improve food security in Kingo, Kabonera and Kisekka sub counties for the 15 years it planned to run the programme.
Mugumya was among those selected, in 2004, to travel to Bushenyi District for a field visit on beekeeping. “We learnt that beehives should be kept under trees and that if it is an open area, shelter should be provided to prevent direct sunshine or rain,” Mugumya explains. “We learnt how to keep bees without being harmed by them and how to sieve honey from combs when it’s ready.”
After the field study, he bought 15 beehives from World Vision Uganda at a subsidised price of Shs3000 each. As time went on, he bought 15 more beehives to double the number. “When I was positioning the beehives, I put them close to the banana, coffee and sweet potatoes that bear flowers so that the bees don’t have to move long distances looking for nector,” he explains.
After doing well at beekeeping, the organisation gave him 20 more beehives. When the honey harvesting seasons of March and September draw closer, I feed the bees on maize and cassava flour because they work as pollen grains during honey formation.
Honey and milk
Of the 50 beehives, 30 are colonised. In a season, I harvest two to three jerrycans of honey and sell each between Shs240,000 to Shs320,000. I also package the honey in 500ml bottles which go for Shs10,000 each, mainly the local market in Masaka and Lwengo Districts.
In addition to bee keeping, he grows coffee on one acre, sweet potatoes on half an acre, bananas on two and a half acres. He also has a dairy cow under zero grazing.
“When World Vision gave the cow in 2002, I didn’t have enough land to graze it. I opted for zero grazing and grew Napier grass on which it feeds. It consumes three to four servings of this grass a day and approximately 20 litres of water,” Mugumya says. From the dung, he gets manure for the plantations.
He adds, “It produces seven to 10 litres of milk a day and I sell each litre at Shs1,000. I milk it for approximately 10 months. When a calf is one year old, I sell it at between Shs400,000 to Shs500,000.” What he finds challenging with his cow is when it is on heat, it is hard to get a bull of the same breed.
Clonal coffee is yet another of what he grows on his farm. Mugumya says he generates between Shs1.5m to Shs2m from one season. “From the harvest, I get 10 to 12 bags of 50 kilogrammes each,” he says. “But because coffee has no fixed price, I sell a kilogramme between Shs2,000 to Shs2,500 depending on the market in a given season.”
Meet family needs
With sweet potatoes on half an acre and bananas on two and ahalf acres, he supplements his other income generating activities. A bunch of bananas at Shs8,000 in a month, he earns Shs100,000 on average.
Mugumya adds, “When I supplement this income with what I earn from coffee, honey and milk, I’m able to educate my children.” “My first born completed a nursing course at Mbarara School of Nursing and the second born is in third year at Muteesa I University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. The third born is beginning university next year and the fourth is in Senior Two. The fifth born is in Primary Seven and the sixth is in Primary Three and the grandchild is in Primary One,” he explains.
Farming is an activity he does together with his wife, and with the proceeds Mugumya has been able to take care of his family.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor