Mention piggery and the first name on many people’s mind is Dr EMMA NALUYIMA.
She has featured at several agricultural expos both within and outside the country where she has won several accolades. Sadab Kitatta Kaaya caught up with her at Bwerenga, Wakiso, where she is inspiring and nurturing a generation of future farmers.
Anyone who has seen the popular television advert of Wonder Pig may wonder who the passionate lady is or if indeed she is a farmer and not merely a model. Well, that is Dr Naluyima.
Although she has no connections to Wonder Pig, the company picked her for the advert due to her niche as a pig farmer; otherwise, her passion cuts across all agricultural disciplines.
“After graduation in 2004, I asked my father to give me a portion of his land so that I could do farming,” the veterinarian told The Observer at her expansive home.
He allocated her 10 acres but she could only use a quarter of it to start her dream farming experience. Piggery is what she ventured into first, starting off with five piglets – four females and one male of the Camborough breed imported from South Africa. Each of the females would give her at least 24 piglets every year; 12 at each delivery.
She was to later expand into fish farming, setting up greenhouse fish ponds in Uganda. With Shs 3.5m, she constructed nine fish ponds each with capacity to take up 1,200 catfish or 1,000 tilapia fish.
“Greenhouse fish farming has many advantages compared to open fish farming. For example, fish are not attacked by predators and harvesting can be done by one person,” she says.
Within years, she had expanded her enterprise to incorporate crop farming, specializing in banana production.
Winning the national best farmer award made her look at Uganda’s education curriculum differently. For her children, she did not want to see any of them attending a school where they are not taught practical agricultural skills.
“I didn’t feel comfortable taking my children to a school that did not teach agriculture because it is the backbone of our economy. I needed to make sure that my children and other people that follow me take the same steps so that we can make the nation a better place,” Naluyima said.
Without any school offering the kind of curriculum that she wished for her children, Naluyima started her own school, MST (Mathematics, Science and Technology) junior academy at Bwerenga near Entebbe in Wakiso district. Her storeyed residential house is what she transformed into the school, and her four-acre piece of land has slowly been taken up by classroom structures and demonstration gardens for her pupils.
Children as young as three years are given hands-on agricultural lessons. An overall dress and gumboots are part of the school uniform and because of the uniqueness of her curriculum; her school has become an attraction to parents that want to teach farming to their children from an early stage.
“The children own the gardens and any harvests are sold and the proceeds are given to the garden owner,” Naluyima said.
First priority is given to the parent to buy what his or her children have produced. The school then deposits the money on the child’s savings account in Centenary bank.
“This we do to encourage and make the children like agriculture. There is no way a child who has been with us will grow up with a mentality that there is no money in agriculture,” Naluyima said.
The size of garden and the type of farming activity the children engage in varies depending on their age and class. For instance, children in the kindergarten section mainly do kitchen gardening and feeding the fish in the ponds while those in upper primary (P5 to P7) work on the plantations in addition to animal husbandry.
“What they learn in their science classes, they also do practically,” Naluyima said.
Tours around the school farm are conducted by the children themselves who take turns to explain the different best agricultural practices to ensure good yields, better productivity of the animals, poultry and the fish. Part of what is produced at school is consumed by the pupils to supplement the ordinary school diet.
It does not stop at teaching the children how to rear poultry and animals but also how to produce nutritious feeds for them at a low cost.
In one of the school’s laboratories, the P6 and P7 pupils breed crickets which are used as a substitute for cyprinid fish (Mukene) in the making of animal and poultry feeds. They also breed maggots and black soldier flies whose protein value is essential in the healthy growth of chicken and fish.