By Sarah Kyobe
At the age of 13, Jimmy Wamala dropped out of school due to lack of school fees. He started hawking polythene bags (buvera) in Owino Market to earn a living. It is from here that he met someone who took him to Lake Kyoga where he drew water out of boats during transportation at a small fee.
In 1998 while working at the lake he met Mr. Nsobya William who offered to sponsor him in school. In 2000 he sat his primary leaving examination but he couldn’t continue to secondary education because he could not raise the fees. He then opted for farming growing cassava and maize.
In 2006 he changed from cassava and maize farming to growing pineapples since it was the main crop grown in his village. Today he is a successful pineapple farmer in Luwero district.
Wamala started with one acre and a quarter. He says the start wasn’t easy but hard work and persistence have led him where he is today. Wamala now owns 100 acres of pineapples with the help of NAADs.
In 2015, Wamala was contacted by Gen. Abiriga the Operation Wealth Creation coordinator of Luwero district. Gen. Abiriga together with the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja toured Wamala‘s pineapple farm and were pleased with what he had done on his own.
In 2016 Wamala received 200,000 pineapple suckers from NAADS which he planted on 30 acres. Prior to receiving the suckers, he had gone through training organized by NAADs for Luwero farmers. The training was on land preparation, proper line planting, post-harvest handling, pest, and disease control. With the 200,000 pineapple suckers and the training, Wamala has never looked back. He is grateful to the government for the support he was given to reach where he is today.
Some of Wamala’s pineapple farms are located in Kibanyi village, Bututumula Sub- County, Katikamu North county Luwero District. By the time of our tour, Wamala had just planted another 20 acres of pineapple in the same village.
Out of pineapple farming, Wamala has been able to educate his children in expensive schools, build houses, bought more land and expanded his pineapple business, and created employment for the youth in Luwero especially where the farms are located.
Wamala employs over 50 workers on his farms who plant, weed, and harvest. Wamala exports his pineapples to Kenya, South Sudan, and Dubai. Locally he sells his pineapples in Kampala, Soroti, and Busia. Wamala told us that in a good season, he can supply to as many buyers are possible. He sells each lorry at UGX 4m. He makes UGX 1m per month after deducting farm expenses giving him at least UGX12m per year.
In spite of the achievements, Wamala faces a number of challenges. The low price of pineapples at the farm gate is one challenge. Each pineapple costs Ug Shs. 1000 at the farm and with corona-virus, the price of each pineapple reduced to UGX 500. Another challenge is the poor or limited market; this means most of the pineapples rot away in the garden causing losses to pineapple farmers.
Wamala called upon the government to construct for them a fruit factory to create a market for their pineapples.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at email@example.com