MASAKA. After death robbed him of his parents in 2002, Joseph Sebowa could not study beyond Primary Seven.
A resident of Takajunge Village in Kabonera Sub-County, Masaka District and a first born in a family of six, Sebowa says he had to stay with his siblings and when he felt they were old enough to stay on their own at home, he left them and looked for a job.
‘Luck’ landed him on job which was to look after cattle and goats, as well a coffee plantation.
He did this for a couple of years, but on the day he calls his luckiest one, he was looking for pasture for her boss’s animals and heard an a announcement that Kitovu Mobile was traversing the village calling for vulnerable children who would enroll for a free training in modern farming under their Farm School.
Sebowa says he briefed his boss about the training and he allowed him to go and get details about the training which largely favoured orphans. “I went and met them[Kitovu Mobile staff]; they took us through what the farm school was going to offer to the beneficiaries”
However, when the father of three children explained his boss, she looked unhappy and didn’t welcome his idea, because of her selfish interests.
He says, “She wanted me to keep looking after her livestock, and told me I came here to work not to study”
But Sebowa recalls he maintained his position because he never wanted to lose the opportunity . “I maintained that I want to get skills in farming, even when it means to work without paying me”
He says her boss later gave her a green light and in 2004, he started attending farm school lessons in Kikungwe Village . “We could study for two weeks and later come back to practice what we had learnt,” he says adding
“They [Kitovu Mobile] gave us mattresses, watering cans and other farm inputs like modern seeds. They could come and supervise us, to see if we were putting into action what they were teaching us.”
He says in 2006, he left the farm school and started farming ,doing it in a modern way ,just as he was taught in the farm school .“I started growing maize in the best way we were taught, I now grow vegetables, like cabbages, tomatoes, green papers just at the backyard of my home, like you have seen,”he says
In the last ten years, things have changed for the better especially livelihood, far from when Sebowa was still working on someone’s farm.
“From these seemingly disguised gardens, I got money and joined a motor garage where I started to get more skills in motor vehicle mechanics and in 2008 I finished and I currently run my motorcycle and bicycle garage
Using his proceeds, Sebowa managed to buy a plot of land and built his own house. “I bought the first piece of land at Shs700, 000 and later added another piece at Shs1, 500,000 where I grow coffee,”
The 30 -year -old says in 2012, Kitovu Mobile gave him a Frisian cow which has enhanced his livelihood. “I get milk for both drinking at home and selling,”
Because they wanted me to add value to the products from the animals, Sebowa says Kitovu Mobile constructed for him a bio gas, which has also made his life easy.
Kitovu Mobile, a turning point
He says Kitovu Mobile has got him far. From looking after someone’s livestock to owning a farm . “The free knowledge they gave me has greatly changed my life”
He says his challenge now is to have more land to expand his farm and improve on the yields.
“We were trained a lot of things and would wish to have them implemented ,but the problem is lack of enough land,” he says
He is also challenged by uncertainty in weather patterns and appeals to Kitovu Mobile, if at all it can help, to get him irrigation equipment at a cost sharing basis, “I badly need a huge tank to harvest rain water. Like you have seen, I now use bottles for irrigation, but this can only apply on a smaller scale, it works on something like an acre, beyond that , you need to use more advanced irrigation equipment”