The life of a farmer can always be very challenging and at the same time extraordinarily interesting.
Uganda’s economy, lying heavily on agriculture as a backbone to economic growth, has a big percentage of families relying on the farm work and produce for survival.
Many businesses in the country too, have been empowered with the handiwork of a farmer, making this the daily life of a day-to-day Ugandan.
Sericulture being an agro-based practice, though newly adopted in the country, as the earlier attempts to have it practiced in the 1990s, were a big turmoil, that had many of the earlier adopters, back out after a big capsize of the trade, has picked many farmers from the tight grip of poverty.
Sericulture, which simply put, is the science of rearing silkworms for the production of the silk fabric, which is the end product, has been reinstituted by the Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI), which started executing the project in 2017, and has since gained great impact on the lives of those working with the project.
TRIDI is currently employing over 1500 Ugandans and many among these, have reaped greatly out of the chunks of cake shares which sericulture has served to them, ever since they joined the project.
“I have since built my own shelter, paid my children’s school fees and bought a goat plus catered for many other household and personal necessities out of the money I earn as a casual worker for the project,” Ms. Melon Katwesigye, a casual worker working with TRIDI.
Mr. Nelson Naijuka, TRIDI’s field officer at Kashongi, confesses to have changed his life as he has set up personal businesses like a mobile money business and other investments in cattle back home, which have changed his life for better because before life was not easy with biting brokenness.
When the project experienced a hiccup in funding in 2021, with the transfer of office from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations to State House, many lost hope of survival, as this brought a reminiscence of the history of sericulture as experienced in the 1990s.
Hon. Jessica Ababiku, the Chairperson of the Committee on Presidential Affairs has however, assured that all the gaps in funding of the sericulture project will always be put in check, to ensure a steady progress of the project, so many returns come in as envisaged, for the good of the local communities, who are the target beneficiaries of all government-funded projects, like sericulture.
This big shift had many workers going without pay for a period of seven months, many gave up on the vision of improved livelihood and better household incomes, but for those who stuck with the wave, had reimbursement when all was sorted.
Many of the casual workers confess that the project indeed is meant to create better given all the visible changes it has impacted on their lives.
The project Principal Investigator, Clet Wandui Masiga, PhD, assures that the project as it goes on expanding and firming up its roots in the agricultural sector of the country, is going to great impact meant for the betterment of economy and people’s lives.
“We envision that, with funding and support still coming into this project, we will expand to own over 150,000 acres of land and this means that more employment opportunities and improved lives for Ugandans in all regions,” Masiga said.
Silk production has transformed many lives of farmers in developed economies like China, Korea, India and Japan, among others, as many have earned many pennies from trading Seri-products like cocoons, silk yarn and fabrics, Uganda’s own economy could lead to this great table-turn, if only the industry is continuously empowered.
“After production along the whole sericulture value chain, to the final fabric, Uganda is bound to earn about 3.6 billion shilling per year from the industry as long as our factories start producing the cloth,” said Masiga.
Uganda continues to eye Seri-money for the betterment of lives and improved household incomes, which is a life changing experience to the farmers and all who are and will be employed under this project.
Story Compiled and Edited by Mercy Scarlet Kigai, P.R.O, TRIDI