The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Best Agriculture Student Already Practising His Trade

Tony Sitenda, 25, was probably cut out to be a farmer.

Unlike many graduates who dream of sitting in posh offices, Sitenda's passion is in farming, thanks to the farming family that raised him. He declares that nothing can sway him from the trade he loves so much.

"I know you can make wonders in agriculture and I will make wonders," Sitenda says.

While a young boy in Villa Maria village, Masaka district, now Kalungu district, he would accompany his mother to the garden. At six, Sitenda already knew when to plant and harvest different crops.

All his family's food, clothing and school fees came from what they grew at home - this laid a foundation for his love for agriculture. Recently, Sitenda graduated from Makerere University with a degree in agriculture and rural innovation.

The fresh graduate is confident that with this milestone, he will reach a desirable mark in his field of interest. Clad in his black academic gown with a red hood over his shoulder, he oozes with confidence as he speaks of his plans to lead a successful career in agriculture.

Sitenda topped the agriculture class with a first class CGPA of 4.55.

"It's not a regret that I graduated with a degree in agriculture. My dream was either to be a veterinary doctor or a farmer; Right here, I am on the way to realising my dream," he says, beaming.

Madhvani scholarship:

Sitenda has a reason to smile, after all. This poor young man grappled with some hard-knocks on his education journey. Just one semester into his three-year course at Makerere University, his father Augustine Mugerwa died. This was such a big blow as it was his father that would combine resources with the mother, Jane Namayanja, to raise his tuition.

"In the second semester, I struggled with my mum and she sold everything at home to see me through," he says.

"It wasn't easy at all. In fact, after that semester, I thought I wouldn't go back to campus," Sitenda narrates.

Still contemplating on where to get tuition from, Sitenda saw an advert from the Madhvani foundation scholarship at the noticeboard at the school of Agricultural Science, of Makerere University. The advert could not have come at a better time. Sitenda applied for the scholarship, explaining the dilemma he was in and he received the scholarship.

"I think God saw my cries. When I got the scholarship, I said I have to concentrate and study. And I made it," he says, beaming.

Not looking for a job

Sitenda is not looking for a job. He has instead chosen to employ himself by venturing into poultry keeping. He now owns about 500 birds that he keeps on a small farm in Nansana, a Kampala suburb.

"I haven't started earning money yet, but the project is promising. To fellow graduates, don't allow yourself to be unemployed. Start on anything however small it may be. I am sure you will make it," he says

Inspiration:

From a humble family, Sitenda says he is inspired by the need to make his family better.

"I want to make my family proud. I really want my mother, who has suffered with me for all this time, not be disappointed in me," he says.

He says he also looks up to such people as the late James Mulwana for his entrepreneurship savvy and Madhvani for his generosity to the needy.

Prospects:

Sitenda looks forward to doing a masters degree in agriculture. "Besides, I want to inspire others. My siblings are there and I need to show them that even those [born] in poverty can make it to greater heights."

Interests:

An Arsenal fan, Sitenda says he loves football and making friends. Sitenda studied at St Francis Villa Maria and Masaka SS for primary and secondary levels respectively before joining Makerere for his degree.

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