Countryside Reports, Sheema
Many stories are told of families being torn apart over who should take control of valuables and projects after the death of their heads. Others are seen in court battles fighting over the property, but this has not happened with the Mbagas, twelve years after the passing on of their father-the late Steven Kaana Mbaga, who was a fisheries officer practicing agriculture as family business, located in Bugongi Town Council, Sheema South, Sheema district, South Western Uganda.
It’s because of the prevailing conducive environment, that Mr. Allan Mwebembezi Mbaga, and his siblings have been able to utilize their 200- acre family land to sustain their father’s niche (Agriculture), instead of dividing into fragments for individual ownership.
They have chosen to use the land altogether for different projects.Allan Mbaga has Particulary used part of Family land to practice Mixed Farming,Juggling it with his current office work at Sheema district where he works as district Engineer.
At 37, Mwebembezi prefers not being addressed as an engineer with his over 10year experience in Civil Engineering and his position as an engineer.
He was born in 1980 to Mr. Steven Kaana Mbaga (RIP) and Mrs. Margret Mbuga who were civil servants. The late Mbaga was a regional Fisheries Officer, who had also inherited farming from his father.
Mwebembezi fell in love with agriculture in his childhood days due to numerous agricultural activities at their home at a time when he had started primary school at Bweranyangi Primary School.He would involve himself in Agricultural developments at home during their holiday and also do the same work at School.
After primary level, Mwebembezi went for secondary Education at Ntare school, and Seeta High School, from where he went to study Civil Engineering beginning from Uganda Technical College, Bushenyi.
“Our father could not allow us to participate in holiday coaching. He believed that holidays were meant to serve the purpose to which they are put. He made sure that we got busy with farming business during the holidays.” Says Mwebembezi. He kept practicing Agriculture throughout his entire education journey-having studied Diploma in Civil Engineering at Uganda Technical College, Bushenyi. higher Diploma in Civil Engineering at Kyambogo University, Bachelors’ Degree in Civil and Building Construction at Kyambogo University, Post graduate Diploma in Construction Management at Makerere University,and currently pursuing his Masters’ Degree in Construction Management at Makerere University.
After losing his Father in 2007 when he was a student at Uganda Technical College, Bushenyi, Mwebembezi felt necessary to spend much time at home taking care of his family Business.
“I remember, even before my Father’s death, I would spend much time here on farm and go to college only when there were classes. So, after my father’s death, I came home to keep close watch of what was going on, and also work hard to get something out of the farm,” he recounts.
The business kept on growing, producing school fees for other family members who were still in school. Proceeds from the farm were also helpful in buying other pieces of land which facilitated expansion.
After landing a government Job, Mwebembezi did not relax. He took it upon himself to go around his neighborhood benchmarking on passion fruit growing projects. He thought this business venture would see him take a step more firm and free in Agri-business.
“I wanted to get knowledge on how one would earn big from passion fruit growing, because I already had enough land. In this, I vowed not to fear challenges because challenges would make me think hard and capitalize on addressing them for better results. There were many lessons to learn. “he asserts
As a learned fellow, the commonly known SWOT analysis was made for he never wanted to enter into a business he had not yet understood. He later started on the project in 2016 onabout five acres land.
On the first harvest, Mwebembezi realized a good turnover. He would harvest ten bags of fruits per week. This was quite amazing for him and his associates. It was good news!
Doing Business with mixed farming
Mwebembezi has since then fully invested in mixed farming as a business venture. He has passion fruits, local breed chicken, Apiary, Dairy cattle, Geese, Ducks, Pigeons, Banana, Fish, and coffee. These sit on a more than 200-acre land. His farm is expected to serve him the raw materials for his guest house under construction at his home in Bugongi.
“I have this guest house under construction and very soon it will be ready. I don’t want to go outside looking for raw materials for facilitating the running of the guest house yet I have my farm here. For example, my guests will be feeding on local chicken meat.” He says
Mwebembezi has a local chicken brooder at his farm. He has up to about 1000 local chicken, 100 ducks, 10 geese. He produces over 100 trays of eggs per month despite the local breed’s inconsistence in laying eggs. A tray of eggs goes for 15000 and 28000 on local and external markets respectively.
When he has paid all his workers, Mwebembezi pockets between 3-4 million shillings monthly, a supplement to his monthly salary from the government job. This he says, sustains his family and covers social responsibilities. He provides school fees for about 30 secondary school students at his neighboring Bugongi Secondary School where he is the treasurer.
Mwebembezi is a manager of his farm. He makes sure that the projects are well supervised throughout the day. He is deputized by his younger brother, and mother who keep close watch of what happens at the farm.
His workers are the students numbering about 15, whose school fees he pays at Bugongi Secondary School. Most of them work before and after their class time, and during the weekend. They have been instrumental in laying the bricks that are currently being used to construct a multi-million guest house at the farm. There is an addition of ten other casual workers at the farm. They work when students are at school.
All projects at Mwebembezi’s farm are “tempting” and can attract petty thieves and predators of the time. Security at the farm is ensured by the presence of dogs, geese and workers.
Surprisingly, large and loud, the geese at Mwebembezi’s farm provide security for a flock of local chickens and ducks. They keep a number of predators at bay and alert anyone around the farm when there is trouble. What they cannot defend the chicken from, they still make plenty of noise about, allowing the workers to investigate and offer protection.
“The geese are good alarms especially when they see flying predators in the sky and trees. Eagles and hawks can immediately be noticed by the geese long before human eyes can see and protect the chicken. The noise they make send chickens and ducks scurry for safety,” Mwebembezi testifies with confidence.
Mwebembezi has recently erected and built a watch tower on the farm, from where cameras will very soon be mounted to record everything that happens at the farm. This he says will boost security of the place.
Every venture has challenges, and Mwebembezi has from time to time experienced challenges, which he confirms are under control.
Crop production at the farm have suffered a great problem of water shortage despite the presence of a 20-liter water storage tank at home. During the dry season, the farm dries up with crops and animals lacking water. Mwebembezi says, the farm needs a complete irrigation system which has not yet been realized because of the expenses involved.
“My mother, being the best farmer in passion fruit growing in Ankole and Kigezi in 2017 was given an irrigation pump, but it lacks accessories, and so it has not helped us. For example, the irrigation system needs a three-phase hydro-power electricity, yet for us here, we have a one phase. This poses a challenge because the current supply is not sufficient,” he complains
The guest house is under construction is under construction. His plan is that he brings urban and decent hotel services to his village “so that people will not have to go to towns for better hotel service” in case they want to rest. Mwebembezi wants the guest house to give his village to provide a beautiful face to his village. The guest house, he says, will provide everything that urban guest houses have.
He also dreams of an improved production at the farm with many other new innovations being done including value addition and also be able to raise more than 50,000 chickens at the farm.
Mwebembezi plans making available more employment opportunities for the people especially students who cannot afford school fees. He wants his current sponsorship scheme to expand so that the people around his village can get education. He is convinced that, after studies, the students that he is helping to access education can be employed at his farm and guest house.
Advice to farmers and investors
People need to remember, that one’s education should benefit the community where he comes from. If you get a chance to access education, make sure that you help other people to get. You can pay someone’s school fees or do something else.
Hard work pays. There is no loss in working hard, it only produces good results. People must work hard to get what they need in life.
Everything is possible as long as you have a vision for your life, and growth is sometimes slow. Don’t do something today and expect results the following day.
People who have studied and are working should go back home and invest in their villages. This is better than moving from rural to urban areas searching for good life. The good things in town can also be taken to the villages and bring meaningful life.