NAPAK – When his herd of cattle and flock of sheep were stolen by cattle rustler’s some eight years ago, a 48-year-old Mark Lokol had no option but to try out a new activity as he was only accustomed to cattle rustling for his livelihood.
The father of six, a former cattle rustler from Losiaket village in Iriiri Sub County in Napak district has now turned to growing fruits such as mangoes, guavas and oranges after he acquire some farming skills from CARIAs a catholic founded organization in Moroto.
“Being a cattle rustler was not easy because when you get out of your home to go and raid you either succeed and come back with cows or you die unlike growing fruits you move without being indicated in the security wanted list,” he said.
“When I was trained by the team from CARITAs on how to start up fruit growing, I had no hope that one day I will reap from fruits since it takes long to bear fruits yet raiding cattle takes only few hours but I kept on attending to these tresses although with little hope because it’s an activity that I was just learn to do but slowly see where I am now,” he said while pointing at his three actors of fruits.
Mr. Lokol who started the project in 2014 has so far tested UGX 15million in the first harvest of his fruits that he sells in various trading centers of Napak and Moroto.
He said before he was trained his work was to cut down trees and burn charcoal, which he says was very difficult.
Ms Sabina Lokeris, Lokol’s wife said they have a hope to build their children permanent house and take them to good schools so that they can become educated and live better lives compared to what her husband endured.
“Some of our children are studying in Moroto high school while others are in primary so these fruits are making us manage to pay their tuition and we are telling them as parents to study hard and get better jobs, “She said.
“This year, am expecting to make good sales because am seeing the way my oranges have accepted to put fruits
According to Lokol last year he used to sale three oranges at shs 1,000 while five guavas it’s sold at shs 1,000.
One crafted mango he was selling at shs 1,000 saying he has regretted a lot for the time he wasted raiding cattle and uprooting cassava from Teso region if he had put all that energy into farming he would be very rich.
“When you get a person telling you that there is money in Agriculture its true imagine I was so stupid those days when I go to raid animals, in Soroti, Pallisa, Sebei, up to Agwara in Serere I could see gardens of cassava and oranges and to me I though they grew alone I didn’t know that someone has to sweat for that plant to grow,” he said.
“My plan is to open up more land for fruits then I will also be supplying to Soroti fruits factory, “he said.
He explain that sometimes he sales some of his goats and buy chemicals to spray his fruits with the knowledge he acquired during his training.
Mr. Lokol now asks other Karimojong youth to spend their energy into productive farming instead of consuming alcohol saying it shortens their years of living on earth.
Mr. Joseph Lomonyang the district LCV chairperson of Napak said they are many youth who are able to do serious farming across Karamoja region but needs to be supported.
“They are many farmers who can do like Lokol but they lack startup capital otherwise we are encouraging them to get financial support from government projects such as youth livelihood program, “he said.