sunflowers 800x530Mr Ismail Tibo in his sunflower farm in Alinga Village Kuru Sub County Yumbe district. PHOTO BY ROBERT ELEMA

YUMBE. For 21 years, Ismail Tibo depended on sale of Teak seedlings to fend for his family. Tibo, a former rebel in the defunct Uganda National Rescue Front of Gen. Moses Ali embarked on this venture in 1987, soon after the rebel group joined forces with the government and some of its fighters were demobilized.

Having acquired the skills of raising Teak seedlings while in the exile in Sudan, the 55-year-old resident of Alinga village, Kuru Sub County in Yumbe district says he would supply the seedlings to schools, other institutions and individuals both within and outside West Nile.

That brought into his coffers sh3.5m (Ugandan Shillings) annually or roughly sh9,500 in daily income.

Diversifying on the farm

Tibo had a big dream of farming on a large scale but it was only after he listened to guidance from President Yoweri Museveni during a visit to Dragon Agro-forestry project at Kemeru village in 2008 that his eyes were finally opened.

Dragon Agro-forestry had 1,000 acres of wood lot in Kemeru village and after a tour of the project, Museveni commended the people for planting Teak but advised that since teak takes many years to mature and cannot be cooked for food, the people should start taking farming of food crops as a business.

sunflowers2 800x530Mr Ismail Tibo, (left) demonstrating a point to a trainee in his teak seedlings farm in Alinga Village, Kuru Sub County Yumbe district. Being a determined farmer Tibo decided to use sh9.8m that he had saved from the sale of Teak seedlings to expand his farm to 20 acres.

He used the land to plant sunflower, maize, groundnut, beans and cassava.

He acquired some of the inputs through support from the National Agricultural Advisory Services programmed and the West Nile Private Sector Development Promotion Centre through Poroporo farmers’ cooperative limited.

Tibo, a father of nine children relied on family labour to do some of the work but he also occasionally hired casual labourers to help him out.

Benefits from farming

Tibo says farming as a business has enabled him to pay school fees for the children and there is enough food for the family. He has managed to put up a permanent house and says he spends some of the money to cater for family health needs.

Challenges

The major challenge that has affected Tibo’s farm especially in the past two years has been drought and armyworm infestation resulting into reduced harvests.

Wild animals such as baboons and monkeys have also been a menace at the farm and he finds it too expensive to hire tractors that he still relies on hoe wielding gardeners.

Amidst the challenges, Tibo is planning to expand his farm to 40 acres in 2018 with the hope of reaping from economies of scale. He plans to use insecticides to spray the warms should they infest again.

Social benefits

“My farm is now used as a research centre where I receive students for study purposes. I now want to apply to become a seed supplier even to other farmers from far,” he said.

In addition to the students, Tibo also selflessly share ideas and advise on farming with community members interested in commercial farming.

“There is a lot of land in Yumbe but people don’t utilize them as such, there is hunger in the district. Let us stop idleness and laziness. We should cooperate to develop the area and fight poverty together,” he advised.