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Masiko Turns Unproductive Soils Into A Golden Orchard

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Forty-nine-year-old Peter Masiko from Nyakibande village, Kitumba sub-county in Kabale district has turned “rurema land” (unproductive soils) into a golden orchard.

An apple is a precious fruit that is consumed by 90% of the Ugandan local population. This fruit is mostly grown in the areas of Bugisu, Bukedi, Bududa and Sebei sub-regions in areas around Mt. Elgon and on the highlands of Kabale in Kigezi.

How Masiko has made it

“We responded to President Yoweri Museveni’s call to do commercial farming with encouragement from the NAADs programme and decided to take on apple farming as an investment,” Masiko says.

He adds that starting this venture was not easy at all because the land was infertile and had to venture into poultry farming to get some extra money out of eggs, but most importantly for organic manure out of the droppings.

Later, Masiko also realized that poultry droppings would subsidise pig feeds [roasted poultry dropping mixed with maize bran make good pig feeds], he took on piggery as well.

He says apple farming with its gestation period of 5 years requires a lot of patience and adds that they collect an average of 5kg of fruits from each tree, selling each kilogramme at sh3,000, which comes to sh40-50m per year. Apples have two harvest seasons, that is, in May and December.

Orchard management for a good harvest

  •  Masiko intercrops apples with climbing beans and beans add Nitrogen to the soils. This helps in sustaining good production all-year round.
  • Manure from the piggery unity and poultry droppings to turn unproductive soils into gold.
  • Turkeys are heavy groovers and help a lot. So, when beans are not grown together with apples, turkeys are let to roam around the orchard and because they are heavy feeders, they do the weeding by feeding on the.
  • During the flowering stage of apple trees, bees visit the farm so much, which made him venture into apiary too.
  • Masiko has started a recreation center where tourists go to for a fresh farm meal. This brings in more money to his pocket.
The turkeys help control the weeds in the apple plantation

To keep operation costs low, this is Masiko’s full-time job and he involves his family with a few casual workers during planting and harvesting.

He keeps records for his orchard, poultry, piggery, turkeys and apiary for easy assessment of the progress of the farm.

Value addition

Masiko makes more money with value addition than just selling fresh fruits.

Besides selling some of the apples fresh, he processes the rest into apple wine. This wine takes a year to become fine wine, which he sells at a premium price.

The poultry farm supplies organic manure for the orchard. Story and photos files by Rosemary Tukundane

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