Creativity helps Ugandan farmer bloom on 1 acre


By Sbusile Mndawe | 29 March 2018
ugandan
Dr. Emma Naluyima, presenting her farming method at TedX Johannesburg. Photo: Sbusile Mndawe

It is believed that successful farming requires a lot of land, but Ugandan veterinarian and farmer Dr. Emma Naluyima believes that with creativity you can build a productive farm on a small piece of land.

Emma divided her 1 acre (0.4 hectare) piece of land into 4 quarters.

On the first quarter, she farms with pigs. Every morning she collects pig manure and puts it in an open field for 6 to 8 hours. Flies lay eggs on the manure, after which it gets covered for 4 to 5 days to produce maggots to feed her chickens and fish.

“These maggots comprise 65% crude protein, which is higher than the protein content of our other animal food. My chickens grow faster when feeding on the maggots. In 4 weeks I can produce a chicken weighing 1.5 kg instead than 1 kg.”

After collecting the maggots, she puts earthworms to feed on the pig manure to revitalise the soil, which she sells to make extra money. “Earthworms are advantageous, because they excrete a liquid that I use as a fertiliser and as a pesticide that keep away aphids and nematodes. And of course the fish feed on the earthworms too”.

Also read: Organic farming: Learn more about earthworms

In the second quarter, Emma keeps 10 to 15 cows. Each cow produces an average of 20 liters of milk daily, which gives her about US$3 000 a year.

To avoid buying inorganic fertiliser, Emma uses the cow manure to produce biogas and also the slurry from the manure to fertilise her maize crop and to make silage.

Also read: Livestock production: The secret to making good silage

“While almost everyone in Uganda uses firewood and charcoal to cook, I use cow dung for fire. When we use charcoal, we are cutting down trees, so my livestock help me to reduce both deforestation and climate change.”

On the third quarter, Emma grows a banana plantation, called “matoke”, which is Uganda’s staple food. Nobody believed that she can grow anything on red soil, because they were taught in school that only black soil produces food.

“I fertilise the soil by water, manure, and I also collect pigs’ and cows’ urine, and slurry. If I am not mistaken I am the best matoke farmer in Uganda, because from this quarter of my farm I grow about 30 bunches of banana and sell each bunch at US$10”.

On the fourth quarter, Emma keeps fish, fodder, vegetables and fruits. In a space of 8 m by 15 m, she harvests 10 000 kilograms of fish in 6 months, generating about US$25 000. She also uses the same space to harvest about 4 800 kilograms of tomatoes over 6 months, for a value of US$2 700.

Emma’s ability to farm sustainably on such a small piece of land proves that a farmer does not need huge amounts of land, or even money, to make a success of their business and to contribute positively to the economy.