For Walter, farming was a lifeline. His farm was small but ensured he could put food on the table for his family. Walter grew tomatoes and cabbages to provide for his wife and 2 children. With a growing family, he was hoping to expand and venture into commercial horticulture, but lacked the skills to get started.
Walter decided to join GOAL’s Young Africa Works: Markets for Youth programme through Nile Forestry Agro, an implementing partner. Walter and his fellow trainees learned how to grow watermelon for commercial produce. Walter also received watermelon and tomatoes seeds at a discounted price to start him off in his new venture.
Reaping the rewards
As a group, their first sale earned them €80 (c. 300,000 Ugandan Shillings – USh) from watermelons and €130 (c. 500,000 USh) from tomatoes. Walter used his share to start his own farm and buy seeds. Unfortunately, the money was not enough for some essential items like fertiliser and pesticides.
“I decided to sell off my smartphone and buy a cheaper phone that would still keep me in touch with my friends. Then I was able to buy the pesticides I needed for the farm,” Walter says.
Before, Walter tried to sell sugarcane to the local community. But with limited demand he struggled to get by. Now that Walter has turned his attention to more marketable produce such as tomatoes and watermelons, he is finally reaping the rewards.
So far, Walter has sold €450 (c. 1.7 million USh) worth of produce this harvest. He has also earned enough to not only purchase a new smartphone, but also buy a plot of land for €300 (c. 1.1 million USh), on which he plans to build two rental rooms to generate more income. Most importantly, the farm has also earned Walter enough money to keep his children in school.
Giving Back To the Community
While helping his family, Walter’s farm is also allowing him to give back to the community. With many people in the community unable to afford a healthy diet, Walter is providing locals with nutritious watermelons
“I understand that health is more important than anything. I give people coming from the doctor the watermelons they need, and they can pay back later. Sometimes they are really poor, and I give them watermelons for free as a way of giving back to the community,” Walter says.
Walter plans to expand his farm and grow even more vegetables. He hopes his farm becomes a model farm not just to the village but to young people across Uganda.
“I’m planning day and night to make it a big farm, so that other people can visit and tour it, and take some learnings to put into action in their own farms. I also want to train more people on the farming I am doing, because I am making good money. I would like fellow youth to also learn how to make that money,” Walter says with a smile.