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04-07-2017

A New Onion Grower in Uganda

18947147_772174659628885_1881493787_oTo become successful at anything is hard work. Some are lucky and come from a background that makes things easier for them and for others it is harder to push themselves towards opportunities, and it requires hard work and persistence to make things happen. In the case of Darius Kanyesigye, it was the latter, but he is certainly proving up to the task.

Born in Uganda to a large family as one of the youngest children he insisted on continuing his studies despite difficulties and made his way to Bishop Stuart University where he attained a BA in Agri-business management and community development. Upon finishing his degree he came to Israel for the 11 month Agrostudies internship which he completed in September of 2016.

18945017_772177242961960_130518020_n“My appreciation goes out to Agrostudies and particularly to the Kfar Silver staff who changed my attitude towards agriculture and also for the trips and other experiences we had. The time management class we had really has helped me since then to achieve my targets. I will always be grateful to Agrostudies for allowing me to participate in the internship.”

He returned to Uganda with a determination to make a difference. “I had the goal of bringing about positive change towards agricultural development…. And the knowledge I got in Israel helped me think of farming as a business rather than just doing subsistence farming” He says.

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He began by growing onions because they have an available market and they need less land, less labor and less chemicals. There are abundant markets for onions in Africa, in places such as Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya and Congo. He prepared the land early on as he had learned to do, with primary and secondary plowing. Then he calculated the distance between the seeds and the quantities, added the necessary chemicals and made sure to weed the nursery beds regularly in addition to watering.

He is using seeds from the Hazera seed company that have a high yield. One acre can yield up to 20-25 tons and Kanyesigye currently has 2 acres. He hopes to expand his land to 5 acres by next season. Other tips he learned from Israel include choosing the location for planting. “I planted on ridges that have improved soil erosion. They yield larger bulbs that are mostly in demand in the market”. He also learned packaging from Benny Avitan and of course, installing and using irrigation systems (“Next season I hope to install an irrigation system”).

19264249_778379259008425_87708383_oIn addition, he is busy educating local farmers on modern methods that can improve their yields in onions in particular, but also for other crops. The purpose is to increase production and reach the big markets. I’m also helping them by making sure they acquire quality seeds, which has been a problem for many here, in addition to choosing the correct chemicals and performing soil tests. Another social activity he has undertaken involves empowering women and youth, two quickly growing demographics in the field of agriculture.

Another plan involves growing passion fruit. “I aim to have a mixed farm with various crops. Passion fruit can ensure my daily income after 6 months and actually they are very common in Uganda. The market is very open to them and I plan on processing the fruit to give it extra shelf life and get higher prices.”

Sounds like a man with a plan who has come a long way from his early struggles. We look forward to hearing about the other great things he will do with his future.

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