The idea of starting a smart garden began in March this year, when we returned home after the university was closed. Other lower institutions of learning had also been closed. So, my siblings were all home. That meant there were more people to feed all at once, and that would put a huge strain on my parents. That’s when I decided to venture into different types of farming.
I started by planting vegetables such as collard, onions, spinach, tomatoes and green pepper to cut on the cost of buying food for the family on a day to day basis. To achieve this, I made use of the available space in our backyard by filling up soil in different sacks to act as the “garden”.
Because we did the planting before the rainy season, we had to manually water the crops every evening. We also worked as a family team, so we all had an opportunity to learn a skill in the process. The only challenge I’m facing at the moment is birds eating up the crops. We have had to cover up some of them in transparent nets to prevent the birds from destroying the leaves. Besides growing vegetables, I also support my mother to take care of the banana plantation, which in turn has also been one of our biggest sources of food.
Another enterprise I’ve ventured into is raring local chicken. I started by purchasing 10 hens—just enough for the small space that we have. Overtime, we have been selling the chicks to earn an income. But we also consume the eggs and meat as part of our diet. During the lockdown, I also identified another gap that existed in our town: there were no hair salons within the vicinity, and getting synthetic hair for braiding hair was difficult. So, I took advantage of the gap to start one. I rented out a kiosk which I have turned into a salon. I have one employee. I also use the space at the front of the kiosk to sell snacks and tea. I’m hopeful this business will eventually take off and bring in even more returns. When I’m not tending to my garden or looking out for the chicken, I spend time undertaking online courses to improve my skills in communications, public speaking and entrepreneurship in emerging economies.
The support I have received from the MasterCard Foundation/RUFORUM has changed my perspective to life—and for the better.
By Priscilla Namulondo