I am Jenifer Adong, 29 years old and a single mother of two, a Chili farmer based in Lokung Sub-county, Pakalabule
Parish, in Lamwo District. In 2011 , my parents passed away while in senior one and there was no one to support me through to secondary school. I went to different schools in search for a bursary which I hoped would enable me
finish my secondary studies but was unsuccessful. I found rescue in the neighborhood, from a woman called Anena Alice, who owned restaurant where I was employed as a waitress, from which I earned a monthly stipend of UGX
20,000 for nearly a year. Alice had a son who lived in Kitgum town and on coming back home, he came with seeds to start growing chili. He pitched to me about the profitability in chili growing. I thought about it but instead sold the idea to my friends. Since knew some of the customers who used to eat from the restaurant while looking for chili to buy, I would link them to these buyers and get paid on commission basis.
After one year working as a middle person , I realized I was not making much progress while my friends prospered. For instance, I would link them and they could make over Shs 1m (285.8 USD) and get paid like 20 USD about 70,000 sh. Starting I decided to start saving money. By 2014, I had saved a significant amount of money (260,000 shillings), which I used to rent a piece of land at 50,000sh per year where I started farming chili as a business . With the money saved, I hardly found any problem starting the chili business.
After eight months, I was able to harvest twice every week and a friend introduced me to an area coordinator (
olanya Charles ) who works for Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) that work in partnership
with Mercy corps. During the eight months, I made 1900 , 000sh (About 543 USD)
After this, I then bought my personal piece of land where I currently grow chili. Since Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) offered me a good business opportunity I decided to work with them.
They trained me on organic farming principles” and latter offered me to work with them as a lead farmer!
In 2015 I have been working with Gulu Agricultural Development Company with support from Mercy corps
under the program Transforming Agriculture for Improved Livelihood (TRAIL) since 2015 , I do not operate on a very large scale, but I am one of their most regular suppliers.
I supply 10 to 20 kgs of chili per harvest, prices fluctuate from Sh 12,000 to Sh. 9, 000 per kilogram. On a
monthly basis, I make about 240,000 sh – 400,000 sh
I get seeds from the damaged chili from a previous harvest and plant them on a virgin piece of land to grow well,
I can use the same plants for over 2 years, it needs the first three months to be during a rainy season, and it takes four months to harvest. I grow simsim alongside but I spend a lot of money like 400,000UGX on the production
of an acre compared to chili which I can use about 100,000UGX for mainly harvesting Says Jenifer.
With proceeds from the chili business, I managed to continue paying my two sisters, one of them has sat for Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) and the younger one in senior two. My first born (girl) now goes to primary three.
‘Earning a living from this business, it keeps me going strong and knowing that am a single mother
after my husband abandoned me for another woman, I forget about my past experience’
ROUTINE AND FUTURE PLANS
On a normal day, I wake up at 7 am and check on the chili garden
and the eucalyptus trees I planted. I spend the rest of the time doing mobilization and training farmers as
part of the work I do with GADC, my day ends at 5pm except for the days that I spend with my two daughters!
I plan to make my sister do any vocational course of her choice so that we can join hands!
Initially, I had dreams of living in Kitgum Town; ‘I wanted to leave the village because I thought better life opportunity was there but now am better off here with chili farming ’ Jenifer concludes!
Story Written By: Vincent Otam, Agribusiness Specialis