Ruth Nalunkuma sits on her front doorstep and gazes at her kitchen garden. The 47-year-old mother of five grows fruit and vegetables in a garden outside her tiny home in Kigoowa, a suburb eight kilometres northeast of central Kampala.
Mrs. Nalunkuma says, “I grow spinach, pumpkin, passion fruit, onions, spinach and dodo [amaranth] in my garden. Unfortunately, I recently lost my eggplants due to disease.”
The widow shoos away one of her four grandchildren and slips on her sandals. With a skip in her step, she escapes her cluttered home to tend to her plot. Mrs. Nalunkuma provides for her family with what she harvests from her four-by-two metre square, 30-centimetre high raised bed.
She raises her right hand high above her head, saying, “I want to build a fence up to here to keep the goats out because they come and eat my vegetables.”
But Mrs. Nalunkuma is not just a gardener. Behind her home, a chicken run is shaded by banana trees growing in the muddy, red soil. The chicken run houses 35 layer hens, which she expects will produce enough eggs to earn her some much-needed income.
She explains: “I just started poultry farming. I have 35 chickens in this pen and another 35 chicks in my house. I hope to start selling the eggs at the market in the next few months.”
Ten years ago, Mrs. Nalunkuma was working as a registered nurse for Kamwokya Christian Caring Community, or KCCC, a Catholic organization. She learned about farming and, since retiring, has grown and sold crops to meet her family’s needs. Her example has encouraged others in the community.
Cathy Nakasi is Ms. Nalunkuma’s former supervisor at KCCC. She says: “Thanks to [Mrs. Nalunkuma], we now have many women engaged in peri-urban agriculture. It’s a great business opportunity, one I’m considering myself.”
Juliet Ndagire is the host of CBS Radio’s Buganda farming program. She has also adopted poultry farming to increase her income.
The journalist and mother of two lives in Bwebajja, a suburb southwest of Kampala, where she keeps 600 chickens. Mrs. Ndagire raises broiler chickens and layer hens, and sells the meat and eggs.
She says: “I now deliver my eggs directly to consumers in Bewbajja and Kampala. The cost of living has gotten much higher. This helps supplement my income as a journalist.”
Unlike Ms. Ndagire, Mrs. Nalunkuma has no external income to supplement. Although she still volunteers for KCCC, the work is unpaid. She is pinning her hopes on her small-scale poultry operation, expecting that it will provide her with a comfortable future.
Ms. Nalunkuma says: “I do what I can with the little space I have. One day I hope to have a one-acre farm on the outskirts of Kampala, but I will keep growing fruits and vegetables in the city to feed my family.”
Published online @ Farm Radio Weekly