YUMBE. Tree nursery bed business has become so lucrative for Mr Salim Andiga, a 71-year-old resident of Luzira village, Romogi sub-county in Yumbe district.
Of late, Andiga doesn't mind his age because of the enthusiasm and courage he developed over years in maintaining and caring for his tree nursery beds.
The elderly man is known for spending most of his time at the nursery bed site weeding and watering the seedlings.
Besides the nursery bed business, the primary school dropout is also blessed with other opportunities including serving as the chairperson of Aringa cultural institution and a watchman at the proposed Muni University site at Bidibidi in Romogi sub-county.
But to Andiga, the other jobs are for side income as his main source of money is from the tree nursery seedbeds he raises on an annual basis.
Andiga opened two different nursery bed sites where he raises a variety of tree seedlings like coffee, mahogany, teak, mvule and fruit tree seedlings among others.
Despite being in the business for more than 30 years, the recent influx of South Sudan refugees to Yumbe was another blessing in disguise to Andiga’s tree seedlings business.
Speaking to West Nile Web in an interview on Tuesday, Andiga said the coming of refugees was an advantage for him as the demand for his tree seedlings went high.
"I started this business by raising teak seedlings on a small scale. I could sell a seedling at UGX50 but in 2013, I got training on nursery bed operation in various places like Arua, Lira, Gulu and Nakasongola that helped me to build my knowledge," Andiga narrated.
The advantage of touring the region exposed Andiga to different prominent farmers that made him learn a lot.
"In one of our trainings in Nebbi, we went to a certain woman's one-acre teak seedlings nursery bed and I was actually shocked by what I saw. That was when I realized that I was playing here in Yumbe district,” Andiga said.
“I used to raise nursery beds on small scale but with the lesson I learnt from the woman, I came back and worked hard to the extent that I started raising seedlings on a two-quarter piece of land", he added.
Andiga used to buy a basin of teak seeds at UGX 2000 which later went up to UGX 3000. The price, however, doesn’t affect him so much given the profit he makes in return.
According to Andiga, he started raising seedlings on large scale in 2016, adding that it was during this period that he included trees like cocoa, coffee, jackfruit and avocado among other assorted tree seedlings.
When social assistance grant for empowerment (SAGE) program for the elderly was rolled to Yumbe, Andiga didn't mind of enrolling in it because of the money he makes out of his tree nursery beds.
Andiga mainly utilises the labour of the family members in weeding, watering and various activities at the nursery bed site though he has employed two people to help in addition to the family labour as the work scale keeps increasing.
Each worker is entitled to getting UGX 80,000 per month out of the money got from the business.
Andiga uses some of his income from the sales to pay school fees for some of his children and dependents. He has also planned to buy iron sheets to roof his house to transit from grass hatched house. On average, Andiga earns UGX5-7m from the sale of tree seedlings every year.
It is for this reason that he has now planted teak trees on a 3 acres piece of land he opened in Midigo sub-county on which he also intends to plant soya beans to fetch more money. This piece of land he recently acquired after another big sale.