By Umar Nsubuga
Jennifer Tumushabe’s farm in Kitagwende district sits on 100 acres of land overlooking Kitagwende town council.
Because of the relatively quiet environment at the entrance of Jenni Integrated Farm, a first-time visitor, cannot imagine a lot of activity in the backyard.
The farm involves emphasis of integrating four agricultural activities, Apiculture, agro-forestry, coffee and livestock. The fruit trees are inter-planted with plantains, coffee and Napier (these are also used as feed to the zero-grazed cows).
“I was a primary school teacher and the salary was not enough, so I had to get ways of supplementing my meagre pay through farming,” she says.
Tumushabe 64, a resident of Kyabwanswa village, Kicwamba ward, is excited about the fortune her agricultural ventures, especially the honey business, has brought her family.
How she started
In 2004, Tumushabe decided to start with two cows and two goats from her savings as a primary teacher.
By that time her husband, Professor Fredrick Tumushabe was working in Kenya.
“I grew up in a farming family and I also got a chance to get married to a man who loves farming,” she says.
Professor Tumwine is a well-known researcher in Uganda and Kenya. The couple got married in 1983 and both had an interest in farming.
“My husband was saving day and night to get enough land to add on his father’s land and now we have more than 100 acres which can accommodate our projects,” she says.
Having contemplated undertaking commercial farming, Tumushabe thought fruit trees, bees, cows, pigs and goats would give her a good head start.
“When I told my husband that I going to start farming and I had already bought two cows and two goats he was happy and he sent me sh1m. I also had sh300,000. I invested a lot of money in clearing the first 10 acres of land and I started to plant trees. I also started to plant beans and maize,” she says.
Grace Kyatuka, a neighbour, says Tumushabe’s farm has led to the rapid growth of Kyabwanswa village. He says every homestead has a fruit tree because Tumushabe’s farm is an agro-tourism centre.
In 2008, Tumushabe attended training on bee farming organised by Kamwenge Bee Keepers Cooperative Society. Today, apiary is the main sector at her home.
“Apiculture is vital in the model farming, the bees are the best pollinators, therefore, increased production and productivity of coffee and other crops, are also important,” she says.
Tumushabe says bee farming does not require a lot of land and the hive can produce many products such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly, bee wax and venom are highly demanded for their medicinal and food values.
Tumushabe has not just improved the quality and production of honey, in the community, but has moved a step further to support and mobilise beekeepers into producer groups, and has enabled them to harvest both high-quality honey, and realise the benefits of byproducts including beeswax and propolis.
The improved hives will increase production of honey and other products such as pollen, propoilsm royal jelly, bee wax and venom. The bees being pollinators, also increase yields of coffee and other crops.
With the tourism centre, Tumushabe’s goal is to promote agro-tourism, in her region, modern agriculture and also create jobs for the youth by showing them that farming is lucrative.
“I receive over 30 visitors per month. Some come in groups, while others come as individuals,” Tumushabe says.
“I have trained hundreds of people ever since I got the idea of the agro-tourism centre across the region,” she says.
Geoffrey Guma, a resident says Tumushabe’s farm has moved a step further to include special agro-tourism.
He thinks it is intended to give a special treat to the tourists. Tourists visit several farm sections in daily farm activities. This involves visitors participating in agricultural activities with the household members.
When Tumushabe knew that Agro-forestry increases the nectar and pollen for the bees by reducing the distance covered by the bees in collecting the same raw materials for honey and other hive products, she increased the number of fruit trees at her farm.
“The fruit trees provide shade for the coffee while at the same time increasing forage for the zero-graded animals such as goats.
Agro-forestry involves inter-planting coffee with trees for provision of shade for the coffee and forage for the zero-graded goats.
She planted avocados, mangoes, guavas and jackfruits. I encourage other farmers to conserve and propagate indigenous trees such as musizi, musasa among others,” she says.
Because of the protection of environment, Tumushabe planted grevillearobusta in the boundaries of the farm. The trees are frequently visited by bees for nectar and other products, they also contribute to environmental conservation and improve the micro-climate of the area.
The conserved trees and planted ones are also used in fencing the paddocks for the cattle and the goats.
The dry leaves that drop from the branches of the trees are used as mulch for coffee and other crops. The mature trees are processed into timber for making bee hives and other products.
The cows and goats feed on conserved, planted and maintained plants. Their excreta is used as organic manure for the crops. It is used to increase productivity in crops such as organic manure for the crops. It is used to increase productivity in crops such as maize, beans and cassava which in turn are used to feed the animals.
The fruit trees are inter-planted with plantains and coffee, Tumushabe says they are doing well at her farm.
“I inter-plant ficusnatalensis with coffee for shade because there are other grasses which are delicious feed for both cows and goats,” she says.
The increased number forced Tumushabe to relocate the animals to a bigger 15-acre land, which she has fenced.
Backed by a chain link all around, the farm is a spectacle to behold with animals jostling for space when leaving for grazing or returning to the shelters. Over 50 kids are kept in separate shelters.
Tumushabe sells her goats between sh250,000 and sh350,000.
Tumushabe has 25 different breeds of cattle and three are Frisians which she rears under zero grazing. The number of heifers is 22 and 10 calves which are reared on free range.
The project brings in 160 litres of milk per day, and she sells a litre at sh1,000.
The animals get enough water because she set a new watering method.
Tumushabe applies drip technology where water pours through the pipes to the troughs, enabling the animals to drink at convenience.
Like other bananas, gonja is propagated vegetatively. The types of planting materials used are peepers, sword suckers and maiden suckers. Peepers are young suckers appearing above the ground with large-scale eaves only.
Sword suckers are formed from buds or eyes and bear narrow leaves. Maiden suckers are taller, with broader leaves.
The recommended spacing is 10ft (3m) x 10ft (3m) and a depth of 0.2m at the onset of the rainy season. About 400 suckers can be planted on one acre.
According to Tumushabe, a bunch of plantain in her region costs sh12,000 and sh15,000, and she sells every month five to 10 bunches.
With the mangoes, she says it depends on season but each is sold at sh500.
On average, her farm production of coffee is 20 bags which is 100 kgs, after the pulp exercise, the net kilos are 15 bags.
A kilogramme of pulped Arabica coffee goes for sh6,500. In a season, she earns about sh5-sh10m.
Tumushabe says when she was starting this project, she knew that knowledge is power, so she took training as one of the most important ingredients in the transformation of society.
“My trainings are undertaken in the following aspects, basic strategies of poverty reduction, integrated farming with emphasis on the quarter model. Improved bee farming, modern local chicken rearing, kitchen garden and different types of manure”, she explains.
According to Tumushabe, it is very important to keep the surroundings cool. So far, I have pine on 30 acres and eucalyptus on 10 acres. I am doing this to fight climate change.
I earn from timber and electric poles. This project brings me sh10-50m a year.
Tumushabe says she has a book where she keeps records of the expenditures and profits made on the farm.
‘‘I sit with my husband every Sunday to balance the books and we deduct the expenditure from the total income earned,’’ she says.
She says record keeping helps her to know whether she is making profits or incurring losses.
“All my children are educated, but I still have to show them what to do because I know where we came from as a family and where we are headed,” she says.
She adds, “Co-ordination is very important for a family to grow in business. Children are also important as we look for the sustainability of the farm, I train them on management.”
With the support of her husband and children, Tumushabe has plans to evolve her agriculture fruit forest into a learning model for climate-resilient agriculture.
She employs six workers and one person who patrols the farm during the day. However, Tumushabe says her children also participate on the farm.
“From the sale of goats, honey, milk, plantains, fruits and sometimes cows, I have improved my livelihood by installing solar equipment for domestic lighting and other purposes, like water pumping. I have also bought a new car for transporting my produce to markets,” she says.
Tumushabe advises anyone who wants to start a cattle farm to gear up for some challenges.
She says she battles common cattle diseases and pests such as ticks and tsetse flies; two of the most dangerous livestock disease carriers.
Tumushabe sprays the animals regularly.
‘‘Most of the drugs for pests and diseases sold in Uganda are not genuine, while others are substandard,’’ she notes.
Unpredicted weather is also a big challenge and even the market.