From Uganda

Summer 2021

Farmer entrepreneurs in Uganda, a garden of Baptist and a greenhouse of Godfrey. Things look promising!
The greenhouse of Godfrey Munezero is being built.

Godfrey Munezero and Baptist (full name Bizimana Matata) are two entrepreneurs involved in horticulture and fruit cultivation in Kigezi, Uganda. Godfrey was first involved in tourism and horticulture. This entails guided mountain bike tours and visits to coffee plantations in the Kisoro area and it has developed quite successfully. The area is well known for its mountain gorillas and the volcanoes. Kisoro is a region located 1900 m above sea level. This means that the days are hot and the nights are cold which is very conducive to growing vegetables. Since the Covid crisis tourism declined rapidly and as a consequence Godfrey now mostly relies on his farming activities to make a living. In the past he maintained a greenhouse several miles from his home. With the help of a TUdelft students team he built a greenhouse in his own backyard and is now successfully growing tomatoes.

Bags are used for the soil. They are not expensive: 100 Ugandan shilling each. After one round of production new soil can be put in the bags in order to prevent diseases and to maintain the quality of the nutrients. The distance between the bags is prescribed by the holes in the drip irrigation lines.

The soil was tested before putting it in the bags. It was too acid, and Godfrey got the advice from the agricultural officer to mix it with fertilizer and as a result it wouldn’t be too acid anymore.

Tomatoes growing in bags

Baptist has a quite large garden. It is located 30 m from the lake and the water is brought with a pump and a generator, whenever necessary. The garden is quite large and recently Baptist moved to the garden, making it his living place, instead of traveling 10 miles by motorcycle each day.

Baptist in his garden on the hill

The produce consists of fruits primarily. Mango, pineapple, banana, orange, watermelon, pears. Baptist is experimental here. Usually these fruits are not grown, because it is too cold in this region. But he tries to and that is successful. The produce is sold in Kisoro at the local market. Since he is the only one selling fruits he has nothing to fear from competition. He is doing so primarily in August-October.

Rain is abundant at the moment of writing (summer 2021) in this region and his plants are doing well. Retailers are already coming towards him in order to buy the produce. The challenge is a good tracking system as part of a larger production plan and also bookkeeping is a challenge, because it is laborious and computers are not easily available.