By Umar Nsubuga
While the Bible says ‘man does not live on bread alone’, Bishop Paul Kiptoo Masaba, a regional bishop in Sebei, knows his flock cannot live on the word of God alone either.
If he is not performing church duties, you will find him in an overall, gumboots and with a farmer’s knife heading to the farm.
On his farm, there is a lot of horticulture activities, “Whoever thinks that the only duty of religious people is to preach the word of God is wrong,” he says.
“Our flock has to eat. They have to get money to look after themselves. We have to support them through such activities,” he says.
Bishop Masaba reiterates his emphasis on Christians to invest in farming if they are to secure their future.
Bishop Masaba also says home gardening harnesses the development of families, he reminded parents that it’s their sole responsibility to inculcate moral values into their children rather than waiting for the teachers to groom them.
He noted that charity begins at home but not at school, therefore, parents should make homes safe places for children, and also encourage young to get interested in farming.
He appeals to the parents to educate and mentor well in Christ to avoid regrets in future, “When you have a small garden of onions this encourages a child into farming, and that’s one of the targets in the Sebei region”.
Peter Ngania, a resident of Kapchorwa says Bishop Masaba is hardworking. It is not bad for a religious leader to help his flocks to utilise their land however big or small.
It is also good to be by example to run such a project, as long as it does not affect his service. It is good because such projects help you solve your problems and help other people.
Ngania also says majority of the people in the area have realised that Sebei soils are good for onions and most farmers are doing onion growing.
Judith Munerya, a wife and nurse says Bishop Masaba’s project is a good example to some people who think that they have to be given everything.
According to Munerya, many farmers have gone into farming because of Bishop Masaba, “There are several hundred farmers who have started growing crops, thanks to Masaba’s efforts”.
Bishop Masaba says when he realised that crops like onions are money makers, he encouraged people in the church and neighbouring areas to start engaging in them.
At the moment, many of the faithful are growing the crop. The farmers receive training at the church and the bishop’s farm before they start. The training is free.
“On average, each person has at least a quarter acre and I also encourage my people to use the small spaces they have in their homes because a basin and a sack can all have 5-10 plantations.
“I am educating the old and youth to embrace farming and, indeed, many of them have done so.”
Salimu Chebet a resident says bishop Masaba’s projects are good and we learn from them.
He should continue to teach other people to start projects which can benefit them. His projects are beneficial to the community because he employs many youths and he also encourages the community.
Annet Cherop, a resident of Teryet says it is good for a bishop to have such a project. It encourages lay people to be hardworking too. Bishops are role models. When they start such projects, they inspire their flock.
When he realised that Sebei soils are good for onions and most farmers were already growing it on a commercial scale, Masaba did not hesitate to jump on the bandwagon.
He says there are several onion varieties mainly identified by their shape, size and colour. There are white, yellowish-brown and purple colours.
There are small pickling onions and large Spanish onions. For commercial farming, Masaba says it is important for the farmer to organise a nursery bed to raise seedlings.
He also says the soils must be soft and the bed should be 1m by 10m and each line must be 5cm by 5cm and the beds should be raised to avoid soil erosion.
After planting, he irrigates the nursery bed for the first 10 days and continues watering every two days. Seeds take 7-10 days to germinate after which he removes the mulches to enable them to access enough light.
Masaba adds that hybrid varieties take 24 to 30 days before they can be transplanted, while local ones take 60 days.
“By the time I transplant them, they have three to five well-formed leaves. Two weeks before transplanting reduces the shade to improve seedling survival rate in the field,” he says.