NEBBI-Oswald Onencan Mugumba a grapes farmer in Mbaro East village in Nyaravur-Angal town council, Nebbi district was expecting to reap big from his grapes orchard, but due to prolonged dry spells, actual yields are far much lesser than what he expected.
Mugumba started grapes farming in 2018 on a small scale as a trial business but it later became lucrative due to high demand, meaning he had to open up more land to grow the grapes.
He says during the prolonged dry spell, the yield is low, as plants including the grapes have to compete for little water in the soil, making some grapes to be of poor quality, hence fetching less money.
Mugumba adds he faces challenges of pests and diseases, transportation, and limited capital to expand his garden.
Initially, he says, it was only the Catholic Mission in the area growing the fruits for their own consumption.
However, local farmers like Mugumba have started to establish grape vines to tap into the growing market.
In Nyaravur trading Centre where Mugumba operates his business, all the roadsides are lined up by the vendors selling the fruits supplied by Mugumba.
He says a bunch of grapes goes for Shs 1,000 making it attractive to customers
Mugumba says, he wants to commercialise his business to earn more money, by producing branded wine as well.
He says he would want to transport his produce to Kampala and connect to wine factories but transporting the produce to the capital city is expensive.
Mugumba says his business provides employment to the locals.
One of the beneficiaries of Mugumba’s grape farm is Quinto Ocamgiu who says is able to feed his family with the little money he earns by offering his labour on the farm.
“When I get the money, I also buy seedlings for planting on my own farm,” he says, calling on government to offer financial help Mugumba so that he can expand his farm.
Mugumba says he bought a motorcycle to move his fruits but also bought a small pulpier for blending his grapes to meet local market demand. He says he pays school fees for his children using some of the money from the business.
“I can grow more grapes and employ more youth but, I am limited by inadequate funds and technical support. If the government could support my interventions, more youth will be employed and learn more to invest in grapes,” Mugumba says.
Maintaining the quality of grapes in the garden
Mugumba says good quality grapes require timely pruning of the vines and that it must be done in January when the vines are still dormant. Harvests, he says must be carried out when all the berries have developed a unique color [blue-black colour].
Call for grapes cooperative
Mugumba says there is a need to start a grapes cooperative that can grow more grapes to feed the factories since the government is soon going to build an industrial park in the area.
The district production officer Nebbi Liverious Nyakuni says, since Mugumba is producing grapes, a rear enterprise in the district, he needs to be profiled to attract other farmers to the enterprise, which he said, needs to be studied as well.
He adds that since grape farming has not been chosen by the district as a priority enterprise, it’s still hard for the district to enroll it in the Parish Development Model [PDM].
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