My first Business hasnot been easy but i never gave up

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Posted June 13, 2016 from Uganda
Examining Passionfruits
I was trying to examine the passion fruits
Egg Plant Harvest
Egg Plant Harvest : We were harvesting Egg plants and sorting them before delivering them to the exporters. (1/3)

Never in my life did I ever think that I would be involved in agriculture and actually enjoy it. In school it was used as a punishment and so there was no motivation to enjoy the subject. However after I gave birth to my two beautiful daughters, I realized that I needed something extra to be able to look after them. Being employed was not a guarantee since our contracts were renewed every year and there was no formula for your contract being renewed.

In 2012 I started doing research about what crops to grow. I did a couple of farmers trainings and visited a number of farms. It was an eye opener for me. So in 2013 I took that leap and dived into the self-employment world. A world I had no clue about but I had faith in myself. I started off with onions and water melons. It was then that I released that what I was taught in the trainings is not what actually happens on the ground. The onions did not turn out the way I had expected them to and neither did the water melons. So I counted my losses and moved on to the next crop. I started growing hot pepper and eggplant for export. The story was the same.

I then realized that people who train and sell seeds are in business and really don’t care about you and your farm. Its up to you whether the seeds actually germinate or not. They are not bothered and its not their problem after they have sold and made profits. This made me very angry but I was glad because I was learning the market. It was a field I had entered in to with one heart and I was going to make it profitable. I started looking for company’s that sold hybrid seeds and got to listen to peoples different experiences about the seeds.

I was not the only one suffering. I also joined many whatsapp farmers groups on different crops and I learnt a lot from different farmers. So I decided to grow passion fruits and tomatoes as well just to spread the risk. So far am not complaining the tomatoes I got the good quality and they are really maturing very well and a very high rate. The passion fruits are growing so well and are really big.

It has not been an easy journey but I know that agriculture is the future and we can make it work. Many people today do not want the hard way of life and yet that is the best to go. People in the villages are selling off their properties to come to town and do odd jobs or ride motorbikes as a means of survival. So there is no labour force in the villages.

I reached out to the women in my community and we had a long discussion on the way forward. They told me that their children don’t want to work anymore and this is because the men in the villages are not being role models. All they do is drink and sleep and roam in the village. The burden of raising the family is put on the women. This is a very big problem because most of the boys in the villages have ben arrested for defilement, rape or theft and it is the mothers who have to bail them out of jail or negotiate with the parents of the girl. Most times the girl is given to the family of the boy if she is found to be pregnant or HIV positive.

Also many of the school are school drop outs due to lack of school fees. This is the entire burden on the mother. As a way forward I encourage them that we can engage more in agricultural related activities and ensure that the money that is got out of the profits goes to ensure that the children go to school.

Many of these women grow crops for the family and sell just little to buy salt and sugar. There are middle men who are taking advantage of the ignorance of these women to make a killing and this has to stop. So I am working with them to ensure that we can engage in agricultural related activities that are resistant to climate change.

I believe that we should be able to work together and share our experiences so that we all don’t get the same bad results. I learnt the hard way about agriculture and I am still learning because with different crops there are different tactics and new farming methods that are developed every day. There are now farming application that you can down load and access the markets. Our biggest problem in Uganda is we don’t have access to information. By the time someone gets the information they have made various loses.

This is the biggest challenge with our country, people give up easily and look for excuses for their loses like witch craft. And yet with agriculture you have to keep trying. God bless my dad because it was something he taught me from when I was very young. He told me to never give up. That however tough a situation is it will always pass. Every day I am learning something new with the hot pepper, chillies, tomatoes and egg plants that I grow as well as the passion fruits.

I know that if I am consistent and persistent the future is bright and I want to succeed with the women around me. I am organizing trainings with the women in my community is that they are able to learn the different crops and we suggest a way forward for our community because agriculture is the future and as women we play a very big role.

#SheMeansBusiness: Women Entrepreneurs
This story was submitted in response to #SheMeansBusiness: Women Entrepreneurs.

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