Anthony Tumwine Senyonga started an initiative in 2019 called Divine Mercy Agro Initiatives Africa (DMAIA), particularly to train youth farmers, women, adults and school-going youth in primary, high school and university, to empower them with skills in smart food production systems.
He says he started venturing into urban farming after realising that home-owners and institutions of learning spend a lot of money buying vegetables, yet they could utilise their little spaces and compounds to engage in urban farming.
‘‘Vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, Sukuma wiki, nakati, watermelon, strawberries and spices mature early and bring profits quickly to home-owners and farmers,” Sennyonga says.
Senyonga, who is a resident of Zirobwe ward in Zirobwe town council, Luwero district is an agronomist by training.
The 27-year-old serves as the youth councillor in Zirobwe town council.
He attained a diploma in crop production and management four years back.
He says he realised that there was a need to help farmers in the country to do commercial food production through making more research, attending farm expos like the Vision Group Harvest Money Expo.
“I had only sh250,000 to buy the seeds, hire land, buy fertilisers and some labour expenses.
“This farm was to serve as a learning centre, and indeed, God helped me and people responded positively,” Senyonga says.
He also runs a shop, which he refers to as a plant clinic because before giving out inputs to farmers, he offers lessons so that the farmer knows the right thing to do.
Senyonga says recently, he established a unit that handles farmers’ produce.
“After realising that farmers need to have their work inspected, I went ahead to teach them integrated pest management practices, modern farming practices and organic farming because I did not want them to get exposed to side effects such as cancer.
“This kept them visiting the demo plot for more knowledge and finally they graduated to commercial food production, particularly in vegetable growing,” he explains.
Senyonga says during his inspections, he noticed that farmers were buying counterfeit inputs. He then decided to start a shop, where farmers access genuine fertilisers and seeds.
“Here we help to do market linkages for produce to markets like Kalerwe, Gayaza, Owino and Nakasero. We sometimes supply to fresh basket online food stores and export companies which sell to the United Arab Emirates and the US,” he adds.
Filed by Jovita Mirembe