DAY 13: 20 Minutes With a Celebrity. Who and Why?
Since my return home, I have had to add many new words to my vocabulary but at the same time, I have lost the true meaning of some words like “a celebrity”. I am therefore seeking permission to tweak today’s challenge to: One Ugandan I would want to spend half a day with and Why.
You have guessed it; it is a “she”, because I am a great supporter of female empowerment.
She is forty years old, full of energy, is driven, innovative, creative and keen to pass on her knowledge and skills to the young. She is a typical Ugandan professional woman, juggling family, motherhood and a career and yet remains a down -to -earth person. For me, she is an ordinary woman who does extraordinary things and she has come to represent the young face of a successful farmer.
Uganda is predominantly an agricultural country with 70% of the population depending on subsistence agriculture in the rural areas and struggling to earn enough to live on from it. Available information shows that the average face of the Ugandan farmer is 52 years and for many years we all believed that one needed to farm a large area to be a successful farmer.
I applaud Dr. Emma Naluyima a Veterinary doctor, Researcher and farmer, of Bwerenga village , Entebbe, Uganda,for dispelling these myths. She is married and is a mother of three. I had a chance encounter with her at a family gathering at her father’s place and I was blown away. She is practicing modern farming on just a one acre of land; the one acre of land was given to her by her father.
She cleared the bush, started a piggery with three female pigs and one boar. She is now laughing all the way to the bank! In ten years, she has grown from strength to strength. She has a piggery, poultry unit and a few dairy cows. She has a banana garden and grows a variety of fruits and vegetables on this one acre land.
What is more interesting is that she recycles almost everything on her farm as she tries to preserve and protect the environment. She allows flies to lay eggs on the fresh cow dung, covers the eggs which then hatch into maggots. She feeds the high protein maggots to her chickens. She introduced earthworms to make humus from the soil, she then uses it to nourish her banana plants and vegetable gardens. Part of the cow dung is converted to renewable, clean energy: biogas. She uses the biogas for cooking in her kitchen.
She is self-sufficient in organically- grown food, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs and she sells the extra produce to the community. Some years back, she resigned from her well paying government job as a Vet, currently this one acre farm is the main source of her livelihood.
Being both an entrepreneur and a forward-looking person, she started MST Junior Academy close to her farm , to pass on her knowledge and skills to the young. She believes very strongly that the youth are our future. If young minds are exposed and made to engage in farming at an early age, they will grow up wanting to be more and doing more as farmers. They will learn to be useful to themselves and their communities.
Nana Obadie rightly said: “ Youth are the root of the world and the seed of the womb.”
Such young people will always be too busy running their small projects like Rabbits rearing to have time to engage into bad habits like alcohol and drug abuse. Like their teacher and mentor, they will start small and grow. They will make farming attractive to the young and they will appreciate the culture of earning their own money from hard work.
How I wish that the Ministry of Agriculture could start and maintain learning centres or demonstration farms like this one between five districts in the whole country. I may be wrong but I think it would reduce the migrations from villages to towns.
While growing up in the 1960s, we had two homes; one in the city centre and one right in the village beyond Mityana town, about seventy kilomtres from Kampala city. By then my father was one of the most highly paid officers but still he ran a mixed farm of coffee, bananas, fresh fruits and vegetables and kept a herd of cows and goats and local chickens. Apart from fresh fish, bread and confectionary items, we never bought any food. The farm was the main source of income to our family. Then came the serial interruptions of the civil wars of the late 70s and early 80s and things changed for the worse. Farms could not be maintained in such a fluid environment and many young people migrated to other countries in search of better opportunities and stability.
Dr. Emma Naluyima, thank you for giving farming a new and young face, being a trail blazer in successful small scale farming, for elevating farming to its rightful place in our society and last but not least for sharing your skills and knowledge with the young and anyone who wants to be like you.
I think I would want to spend a whole day with you not just half a day because your passion , courage, innovation and determination are very inspirational to both the young and old. You are doing what you love and earning good money out of it.
“ All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them. “- Walt Disney
How far are you along the journey of living the life of your dreams?