Passion and determination are key ingredients in business. Peace Bampata, a resident of Nyabikyerere Central Division in the outskirts of Bushenyi Ishaka Municipality, Bushenyi district is one of the few making a killing from passion fruit farming.
Bampata, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from the United Kingdom and a teacher by profession, says she decided to embark on passion fruits project shortly after her return from abroad in Japan three years ego.
She abandoned her teaching career at St. Kagwa Junior Primary school in Bushenyi district and the nursing profession that she was practicing in the UK and Japan to get involved in farming.
Peace, who got married to Bampata 45 years ago, but unfortunately the husband passed on, decided to do away with government projects like coffee, tea and banana farming like it’s a norm for people in the western region.
She says passion fruits can give you money in the shortest possible time.
“It was my dream project from the start since I was a teacher at St. Kagwa Junior Primary School. I don’t regret quitting my professions because I am making money,” says Bampata.
She adds that she was discouraged from the business at first because of thieves who would steal her passion fruits, but she also had limited land. However, after her return from abroad, she bought land on a large scale to invest in passion fruits.
Bampata says she sells a sack of passion fruit in Mbarara at Shs300, 000 every week and in a year, she can earn as high as Shs14m. She also sometimes sells her passion fruits in Bushenyi.
She says although the project is faced with a lot of challenges, she has managed to raise her income levels since she can get Shs300, 000 per week. This has enabled her to look after her children and other people in the village, she says.
She reveals that she is now a model farmer in the municipality as people go to her farm to study the business of passion fruit growing.
“When different groups of people are here to study on passion fruit growing, I feel proud because I have gone back to my days when I was a teacher,” she says with a beaming face, adding that she also employs some youth.
She says lack of skilled labour is one of the major challenges she is facing. “Most of these people you are seeing are not skilled; I get them from this village to come and help me in harvesting, parking and even transporting and their lack of professionalism has affected my project a lot,” she says, adding that her project is also affected by diseases and pests.
“We don’t have anybody at the district who specialized in passion fruit growing. When this project is under attack by disease, I suffer the consequences and times when I go to buy pesticides, they give me fake ones,” she adds.
She says the dry spell affects her output, noting that the government should work on irrigation schemes to help them.
From her savings, she says she wants to set up a recreational centre for children since there is none in Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality. She also wants to sustain the project as she contemplates adding value to her produce.
“People should know that there is a lot of money in the agriculture sector. I left my job as a nurse in the UK where I was earning highly and came here to do agriculture. Now days, it’s no longer how smart you look, but how much you have in the pocket,” she says.