BUHWEJU – Patrick Tumuhirwe of Kyenkaka Cell Village, Nyakishana Sub County in Buhweju District is one of the beneficiaries of National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS). Patrick first received 7,000 tea seedlings in 2007 and he has been periodically receiving seedlings and he now 10 acres of tea plantation.
He harvests between 5,000 to 6,000 kilograms of tea leaves selling a kilogram at UGX 450 which gives him UGX. 2,250,000 or UGX 2,700,000.
After paying all the farm expenses like workers, herbicides, transport and fertilizers, Patrick earns UGX 1,400,000 per month and this money has helped him educate his 8 children, provide basic needs for his family, buy a cow and expand his plantation.
Mr. Begira M. Ephraim, the District Production Officer, said NAADS started supporting the farmers of Buhweju in 2014 and so far, 45m tea seedlings have been distributed. Before NAADS, the people Buhweju got their tea seedlings from Kanungu and Mbarara. Sometimes seedlings wilted during transportation. Buhweju also received heifers and apple seedlings in addition to the tea seedlings.
According to Buhweju District Chairman, Mr. John Asiimwe, the population largely depends on tea which is in plenty. 120,000 kgs tea leaves are collected per day during peak period and 100,000 kgs during the off-peak period. Due to the increase in tea production, three tea factories namely Global, Kanuka and the second Igara are being set up to buy off the farmers’ green leafy.
He further said that tea planting has played a big role in changing the lifestyle of people of Buhweju. People have been able to build houses, buy cars, educate their children, create jobs and provide themselves with basic needs.
The jobs created include tea transporters, farmers, seedling gardeners, and tea pluckers. A tea plucker is paid UGX 150 per kilogram. The more the kilograms one plucks the more money they earn.
Boniface Bagarukayo of Mushasha Central Village, Mushasa Parish, Buhanga Subcounty received apple seedlings. Boniface a former teacher started the apple project three years ago when he received 600 apple seedlings from NAADs. Boniface said he collects 200 apples daily and sells 3 apples at UGX 1,000 since customers are his village mates. In a week he earns UGX. 20,000 and a month UGX. 60,000. So far, he has harvested three times.
Boniface said he no longer depends on his children for basic needs since he can now provide them to himself and his wife using the money from apples.
In spite of all the positives, Patrick and Boniface face a few challenges, like poor road network making the transportation of their products to the market or factory difficult, the poor market for apples, fluctuating tea prices, limited herbicides, and fertilizers.