Kampala — The Ugandan government is encouraging its urban population to take up small-scale farming in order to reduce poverty levels. A lady who has come to be known as Mama Pig shows how it can be done.
Emma Naluyima is a successful farmer in Uganda who has become well known countrywide for her skills in making the most of just a small piece of land. Her farming techniques include planting a type of grass for her animals that grows in just six days.
When Naluyima resigned from a well paid job to try her hand at farming, some of her relatives thought she had gone out of her mind. But to their surprise the venture paid off and Naluyima has become a model farmer who is today consulted by both experts and individuals. She runs a variety of projects on the one acre (0.4 hectares) plot of land which she purchased herself. She has a piggery, fish ponds, a banana platation and vegetable gardens. She also rears poultry, produces biogas and runs a vetinerary clinic.
In an interview with DW, she explained why she opted for the Camborough breed of pigs. "This pig has a thin layer of fat, it grows very fast and has very good mothering abilities. Basically, once you've gotten this pig it will give you more than ten piglets," she said.
According to experts, one of the main reasons why farm productivity is low in Uganda is because much of the arable land has been over-used by farmers for a long period of time without the addition of fertilizer. A scientist herself, Naluyima knows exactly what her type of land needs. She says farmers need to be in tune with nature and hear what it is saying. "The soil says 'nothing can grow on me, we are on a rock and it's red soil.' People think nothing comes from red soil. But the matooke (a kind of starchy banana) are saying, 'if my boss gives me water and manure, I will definitely grow," Naluyima said.
Emma Naluyima (seen on the right) rears tilapia in specially lined raised ponds. A controlled feeding system means the fish develop faster
Naluyima's farm is used by many universities as a demonstration for their students. Private individuals also visit to study and acquire knowledge to use on their own farms. Naluyima has helped many urban farmers to use very small pieces of land for agricultural purposes.
Cattle farmers frequently lose their animals in dry seasons due to lack of water. But one of Naluyima's most exciting projects is the use of a hydroponic fodder-making machine which makes grass grow in just 6 days. This is a method of growing plants without soil. The plants need only moisture and nutrients.
Naluyima's farm is in the village of Bwerenga where she is known to villagers as Mama Pig. She says she takes no offence because this was her dream all along. As a veterinary doctor she also runs a clinic in the nearby city of Entebbe. So that more Ugandans can learn about agriculture she is building a agricultural training center. For Naluyima, knowledge is the key to success. She says that, for her, it was not enough to see other people put her ideas into practice. "I don't see why I, as the person with the brain, don't use the brain - so that's how I went into farming," she said.
Since then, there has been no stopping her.
Author Alex Gitta
Editor Susan Houlton