When Steven Ssekamanya sees a tree seedling, he sees money. This is why he has turned grafting tree seedlings as his major business, using a very small piece of space that under normal circumstances can otherwise be neglected. Ssekamanya is the manager of a successful tree seedlings project in Semuto.
Sekamanya is among the directors of Volunteers Effort for Development Concern who run a tree nursery project in Wakasenke, Semuto town council.
Ssekamanya says tree grafting, though a largely backyard enterprise since it needs minor space earns well. “We have stocked many seedlings of pine, avocado, mangoes, oranges and flowers.
When you have all this it really pays”, says Steven. Several farmers in Semuto in Nakaseke district have benefited from tree planting, which have been successfully developed by Volunteers Effort for Development Concern and Environment Alert.
Ssekamanya saw gold in trees at an early age. He then aspired to achieve this dream. He sought for more knowledge about trees and hence, he was trained at VI Agro forestry in Masaka.
Currently, this project has almost 120,000 seedlings. This nursery project supplies 20,000 clonal coffee seedlings and 25,000 of pine seedlings.
“The average price for these seedlings is between sh2,000 and sh5,000,” Ssekamanya says. “We sell to individuals and local governments officials,” he adds.
Impact of the project
Ssekamanya`s project trains many farmers from different areas of Nakaseke district and at the moment, many of them are practicing tree seedlings growing as a backyard business. “We want to train our farmers such that they don’t make losses. That’s why we joined the National Coffee Alliance to train many coffee growers,” he said.
“We advise our people to stop lamenting about unemployment and instead start such a project because it is profitable,” he adds.
The project teaches those with knowledge on farming and even those who are just starting farming.
Rose Nabuma is such one person who was trained by this project and she is now working with this nursery project.
How to graft trees
Grafting trees is as easy as ABC for those who have acquired the knowledge.
-However these tender, young trees needs so much care or else they die. “You need to plant them in fertile soils, most especially black loam soils,” he says.
-The fertile soils are stocked into polythene bags before the grafted seedling is planted there.
-Water is a key component of this project since you need to water the seedlings regularly, without which they will die.
Pest and disease control is a constant challenge in the nursery. “We still lack a training centre to teach our people in the area. There are many people who don’t like this nursery seedling business, yet it is a profitable,” he says.
People still take this project as a person business yet it is not our target.