Lubega Answers Museveni's Call on Raising Household Incomes
Lubega (L) talks to a farmer visiting his garden.

Lubega Answers Museveni's Call on Raising Household Incomes

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said that by 2020 any Ugandan should be able to earn 20 million shillings a year, including all Ugandan farmers. Lubega Emmanuel answers his call.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: September 15, 2011

Former Kampala Mayor, John Ssebaana Kizito is famously remembered for having warned that any one whose daily income is less than two dollars a day (about 5,000 shillings) risks to pack his or her belongings from Kampala back to their ancestral village. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni almost echoed his political adversary in 2006, saying that by 2020 any Ugandan should be in position to earn 20 million shillings a year, including all Ugandan farmers.

Many took it as a political statement while some saw it as a daylight dream but a certain Lubega Emmanuel seems to have taken this as a demand to him. Lubega, a farmer in Nakaseke district has answered the President’s call even before the specified period.

From his pineapple and dairy cattle, Lubega is assured of a minimum of 500,000 shillings a week, meaning that he reaps 24 million shillings annually from the two farming activities.

Lubega (L) shows visiting farmers his banana plantation and cow feeding place
Lubega (L) shows visiting farmers his banana plantation and cow feeding place.

A model farmer earning income

Seven years ago, Lubega was like other youthful builders being hired on house construction sites to offer his semi skilled labour in return for a small payment. But today, Lubega is not only a lead farmer in Kasana LC, Kikyusa Parish, Semuto Sub- County in our own Nakaseke district, but a role model for other farmers in country as he hosts different learning groups who come to learn how to undertake effective mixed farming, land utilization and modern farming practices.

Lubega transacts all his activities on only 56 acres of land with the banana plantation, fishery and cattle rearing taking a lion’s share of five acres and 50 acres respectively. He owns 12 fish ponds of which six measure 1,000 square meters each while the rest measure 300 square meters each. Lubega owns 30 dairy cattle of which five produce 50 liters of milk per day. He sells each liter at 700 shillings, which earns him over 35,000 shillings per day. This might be more than enough earning for an average Ugandan household head, but Lubega supplements this income with another daily income from the 300 poultry project for local chicken.

One of Lubega's fish ponds
One of Lubega's fish ponds.

Mixed farming paying dividends

Lubega also has a banana plantation as part of his ever growing farming enterprise, which has started adding to his weekly income. He says he harvests 50 bunches of Matooke (bananas) every week which he sells at an average of 7,000 Uganda shillings. That is another 35,000 per week in revenue from farming. This is in addition to the income generated from the suckers from his banana plantation he sells to other farmers in Nakaseke and neighboring districts. The fact that he has improved quality and well looked after bananas has attracted many farmers from neighbouring Luwerom Nakasongola and Masindi districts to get suckers from Lubega’s garden.

“I also started growing pineapples. Though they are still on a piloting scheme, I expect to start earning money from pineapples,” Lubega reveals.

Living a good life from agriculture

From the income he earns from his several agriculture activities, Lubega has managed to construct a decent three bedroom house and procured a pick-up to ease his work. “This is in addition to catering for my family very well and clearing school dues for my children on time since I don’t have money shortages like I did in the past,” he says. Lubega is married with four children and three of them are going to school.

Lubega attributes his economic success to the NAADS (National Agriculture Advisory Services) programme which he credits for equipping him with the modern farming skills and high breed farm inputs. NAADS, which was introduced by the government in 2001, is one of the seven pillars of Uganda’s Plan for Modernization of Agriculture, the key economic sector that employs more than 75% of Ugandans. NAADS is also a key intervention of the government’s Prosperity for All (PFA) or Boonabagagawale program under which the government set an ambitious target of ensuring all Ugandan households are able to earn income and get out poverty. NAADS has been riddled with many corruption related scandals with some Ugandans wondering if anyone has benefited from it.

“Many of the critics of the NAADS programme are not informed about its benefits. In reality, it has helped much in equipping farmers with modern farming technologies, breeds and it is evident the agriculture output has enormously improved for many farmers,” Lubega says.

Apart from enabling him access better quality seeds, Lubega says the NAADS trainings he attends as part of his Farming group have enabled him to use the waste collected from his poultry, cattle and piggery to feed his banana plantation that has produced good bananas on a small piece of land that many earlier though was dry and lacking in soil nutrients.

Teaching others better agriculture

“For those who are serious about farming, NAADS is a good program to become part of. All the crop diversification I’m doing, improved seeds and cattle I have and the organized nature of my farming activities are a result of taking NAADS seriously,” Lubega says.

While you can question his exuberance in defending the government’s NAADS program, anyone has to appreciate his farming activities that have made the former builder a much talked about person not only in Nakaseke, but in much of central Uganda. In fact, it is an understatement to say that Lubega’s farming activities have turned into a tourist and learning attraction both from within and outside Nakaseke district. Many people come to his farm to learn modern farming techniques of different crops, mixed farming and proper soil management practices.

Lubega says his farms have been an eye opener for other farmers in different parts of Uganda, and helped to prove that President Museveni’s call of ‘Bonnabaggagale’ through families earning sufficient incomes from farming can be achieved.

Market and value addition concerns

But while Lubega is getting commendable income from his farming, like many Ugandan farmers, he is still getting paid little money for his output. For example Lubega sells a bunch of Matooke at 7,000 shillings, while in the same bunch goes for a minimum of 15,000 shillings in Kampala, just about 60 kilometers from his farm in Nakaseke. A liter of milk in Kampala is being bought at 1,200 shillings while Lubega sells his liter at 700 shillings.

If there were more farmers in the area with more milk and bananas (as well as the other crops being produced), probably Lubega and the other farmers would have attracted better buyers who could pay a good price for their produce. Also, the fact the Lubega and other farmers still sell raw farm products means they have to sell as soon as they harvest to avoid spoilt or expired because they are unable to preserve such products for long, or add value to the agriculture products.

Lubega believes that the government will come good on its promise to enable farmers add value to their products, and helping in the establishment of small scale agro industries in different areas for farmers to sell produce to processors at a higher price, or to process their farm produce and sell it at will when prices in the market are better.

Lubega (L) talks to a farmer visiting his garden
Lubega (L) talks to a farmer visiting his garden.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: September 15, 2011
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Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.