He earns Shs35m from half acre of garlic a season

Twaha Kakooza

I am known as Dr Twaha Kakooza and I am a resident of Bubajjwe village, Kayunga sub-county, in Kayunga district. I am the proprietor of Shatwa Mixed Farm located in the same area. I am a doctor of herbal medicine.

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I started this farm in 2004 on a four-acre piece of land. During that time, vanilla prices were soaring so I decided to take advantage of the trend and grow vanilla also. But before my vanilla matured, the prices fell drastically so I decided to cut down all my vanilla after realising that the venture was not economically viable as its price was not dependable.

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Economic value
\r\n In fact I realised that the future of vanilla growing in Uganda was gloomy. During that period, I went to South Africa and Brazil to study herbal medicine, growing herbs and their different uses.
\r\n While in Brazil, I visited a farm that had herbs being grown on large scale, including garlic. After being told by the Brazilian farmer about the purposes and uses of garlic, I picked interest in it.

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I did not only take interest in growing the crop, I also did more research about garlic and its economic values, which I discovered were enormous.

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When I returned to Uganda in 2011, I was further encouraged when I learned that despite the large market for garlic in the country, most of it was being imported from China, Egypt and South Africa. For a start I began to plant garlic on a small scale. I started with a quarter an acre as seeds were very expensive at Shs 3,500 per kilogramme.

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So, in a quarter an acre I used about 2,000 kilos, which I bought at Shs7m from shops, farmers in South Africa and from local supermarkets.

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Lessons learned
\r\n The price for seed seems a lot but when you learn how to grow it, you realise it is not as much. When you grow it, the yields are worth about three times the money you invested in buying seed.

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But some of the garlic seeds did not germinate as I had mistakenly bought garlic meant for consumption and not for seed. It was at this time that I learnt that seed garlic should be harvested when it is at six months though garlic for consumption may be harvested even when it is at four months. But both look the same.

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From the quarter acre, I harvested about 2,000 kilogrames, which I sold at Shs8,800 a kilogramme and earned Shs 17m. I sold it to wholesaler dealers in Kampala and other local retail buyers.

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After knowing where I had gone wrong during the first time, I increased size of my garden to a half an acre. From this one, I yielded 4,000 kilogrammes of garlic from which I earned about Shs35m in six months.

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Because garlic seeds are expensive and since the crop needs a lot of irrigation, currently I cannot expand my acreage farther as this would mean spending a lot. I also want to cultivate a small garden I can attend to properly.

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Training others
\r\n Because garlic needs a lot of moisture to develop a full sized bulb, I installed an irrigation system by constructing a water dam and installing a water pump. I use sprinkle and drip irrigation in my garden and even when it shines a lot, my crop is not affected. I bought the water pump at Shs2.5m and the water pipes at Shs720,000. Though I use this method of irrigation, watering cans can also be used.

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After realising that many Ugandans wanted to grow garlic but lack knowledge on how it is grown, I started training farmers interested in garlic farming.

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I conduct trainings for individuals and groups at a fee though I prefer training people in a group as they are easy to train than an individual. As the number of garlic farmers grows, we shall form an association and sell our crop as a group to local buyers in the outside market.

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Hidden treasure
\r\n Though vanilla is well-paying, it is a crop that needs a lot of care as a farmer needs to devote him or herself to looking after it. Garlic should not compete for nutrients with weeds as these compromise its growth.

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I have not experienced any disease or pest outbreaks that affect garlic though some may develop poor leaf growth due to limited fertility. But I use organic fertiliser like coffee husks mixed with chicken droppings to increase soil fertility.
\r\n My future plan is to join hands with fellow garlic farmers to construct a factory that will pack garlic through a cooperative society for the export market.

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I also plan to grow other herbs on my farm which I will process and pack for sale on local market and for export. Currently, I am growing a few herbs for demonstration purposes.
\r\n I hope to reap much by growing this crop because indeed garlic is a crop with a hidden treasure.

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