Keys to Success: Eggplants Lead to a New Career
By Richard Acema, a former construction worker and a current farmer. Richard is 35 years old and has two children.
WEST NILE REGION, UGANDA — As I walked to my workplace each day, the inviting layout and impressive performance of the demonstration garden established along the highway constantly attracted my attention.
I had had a series of failed crops in my field, due to lack of knowledge and lack of access to extension services and to quality inputs like disease-resistant plant varieties, so I was eager to get to know the garden’s owner. This gardener later introduced me to East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT), which was giving him all the technical support he needed.
I was then taken by EWS-KT through different sessions on vegetable production, such as seedling production, soil and water conservation, crop protection, and safe and efficient use of pesticides, at their learning plot at the Omugo Sub-county headquarters. After completing one full cropping cycle on the learning plot, I replicated the technologies I had learned from their site in my field in the first and second seasons of 2021. The returns were outstanding.
In the first season, I obtained a net profit of 720,000 Ugandan shillings (about US$200) from a 250-square-metre demonstration plot of Arjani F1 eggplants. I increased the production to 500 square meters in the second season, where I made a net profit of 1.4 million shillings (almost US$400).
“The money I raised in a single production season is double the annual income I used to get from my previous job in construction on a building site.”
The money I raised in a single production season is double the annual income I used to get from my previous job in construction on a building site. The community around me has also adopted vegetable production and is learning these new technologies from my field.
The access to high-quality hybrid seeds, the practical skills attained, and the available market for my produce have been my strengths in this endeavor. With steady progress in my production of vegetables, I will buy a motorcycle for transportation of my produce, as getting my vegetables to market remains a challenge.
Nutrition and Income Generation Intervention (NIGI) improves access to and consumption of nutritious crops and increases income for refugees and hosts in refugee settlement areas in the West Nile Region of Uganda. This project is co-funded by Netherlands Embassy Uganda and is managed by EWS-KT in collaboration with Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation.