Tomato Farmers See Massive Growth
When the East African Youth Inclusion project formed the Zirobwe Kalagala hub in Uganda, Mpiima Mohamed joined of one of the hub’s beneficiary groups, Situka Youth Development. Before joining, Mohamed had dropped out of high school because his parents couldn’t afford his education. He began engaging in small-scale tomato farming on his family’s land. While he had the skills to grow tomatoes, Mohamed did not have access to the capital required to expand his business into a large-scale operation. Upon joining the project, Mohamed received training in business development that enabled him to see opportunities to expand his harvest. He engaged in the group’s saving and lending activities from which he borrowed small loans to invest in his business and expand his tomato garden. Mohamed had saved $135, but it was not enough for the garden size he had always wanted, so he borrowed $270. He used the total funds to plant half an acre of tomatoes. Mohamed was fortunate that the harvesting season coincided with a good market price, earning $1,080 from this season. From this income, Mohamed cleared his loan and re-invested the balance in expanding his tomato garden to one acre for the next season, which coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Nevertheless, Mohamed concentrated on his garden during the lockdown and reaped a bountiful harvest. “I can see my time and energy being put to proper use with this harvest, unlike other youth who decided to just sit home and complain to the government for food and masks during the lockdown,” Mohamed said. This coming season, Mohamed plans to plant two acres of tomato using the $6,748 he saved from the previous season. He is glad that he can now continue to expand his business without relying on a loan. He plans to buy a motorcycle to help him transport his tomatoes to the market, which he expects will allow him to earn about $2.70 per day during the offseason.