Sandra Nabasirye‘s capital for her first business venture was Shs100,000. This was when she was at university.
She would resale second hand clothes from St Balikuddembe market commonly known as Owino market to female and disguised her true identity to avoid teasing.
Nabasirye says on the first day, she made Shs7,5000.
Nabasirye eventually ventured into commercial agriculture, still with little capital. She began growing tomatoes on a small scale and with her commitment, she has never looked back.
Today, she grows tomatoes on an acre of land near Kampala city.
“You don’t need lots of experience to succeed at something. Once your mind and heart are onto it, you can achieve it,” Nabasirye said last week while appearing on Robert Kabushenga’s social media show, #40DayMentor.
Nabasirye, who grows, harvests and markets her own tomatoes, urges farmers to put all their hearts and minds on the trade.
“Commercial farming is not for the lazy ones, but for the committed farmers who are not afraid of losses. Like any business, losses may occur but that should not stop you,” Nabasirye reveals.
She adds that one of the key factors to consider when starting a tomato project is time. “It takes lots of work and commitment for an acre to yield 30 boxes of tomatoes,” she says.
“If you’re not ready to put in the time in this project then I advise you to go and do other things. Tomatoes need time; you need to be there in the garden,” she adds.
She adds that farming requires creativity and tapping into social media spaces.
“You don’t need lots of experience to succeed at something. Once your mind and heart are onto it, you can achieve it.”
According to Nabasirye, most of the people who would say farming is not profitable are not actual farmers.
“Farming is like any other business,” she says, urging Ugandans to exercise patience when they venture into the sector.
“When you learn the science of farming, you’ll love it, you start to see crops or animals as your babies… feed them correctly and see them mature and then they feed you. Problem is people who do farming in villages aren’t commercial farmers and that’s why they fail,” Nabasirye notes.
In farming, Nabasirye says record keeping is very important even for trivial issues
“For instance, when you spray, see how each variety reacts and also to avoid disease try inter cropping especially crops in a different family,” she says.
Nabasirye has also not stopped learning.
“For every farmer I visit, I want to be better than them. I always strive to be better. If they live their gardens at 6pm, I will stay longer, in order to achieve more than them,” she concludes.
Here are Nabasirye’s tips on engaging in agriculture
1. Equip yourself with knowledge before starting any agriculture enterprise, knowledge on what to grow, how to grow it, why and when to grow.
2. Never target peak seasons; peak seasons come with their own challenges. Be a farmer not a gambler.
3. Choose at least two main crops and a rotational crop plan. Jumping from one crop to another is not right for your pocket.
4. Plan your farm and always have the crops at different stages to ensure constant supply.
5. There is no crop that is not profitable; just master the pros and cons of a particular crop.
7. Have a spray and fertilizer plan and stick to it because some crops like tomatoes are susceptible to diseases.
8. Try as much as possible to cut down on farm expenditures without compromising on produce quality.
9. Never take advice from agrovets and agrochemical sales agents. Most of them are sales persons and not AGRONOMISTS!
9. Never hold back on a produce if its a quick perishable
10. Never plant a new seed on large scale before doing trials unless you have seen it somewhere.
11. Be a practical farmer, never trust your million dollar ideas against a farmland; ensure you are present all the time.
12.Never employ a close family member to manage your farm; most of them will fail you.
13. We have so many “online farmers” don’t be duped, never apply any farming information you get online without consulting your agronomist.