Farming journalist: A tale of Intertwining pathsHakim Mulinde
Chrispus Kamusiime, a third year Bs. Journalism student at Nkumba University, grew up in Mitooma district – Western Uganda. He is the first of 8 children; and son to Mr. Fred Matsiko and Mrs. Jennifer Tusingwire. While he studies journalism, Kamusiime grows Coffee on a small scale. His farm has kept him busy duing the recent quarantine (due to COVID19). He lives by the mantra, “Create a life you can be proud of”. Today, he shares his story.
Tell us about your experience as a student.
Like any other student, my first semester at campus was bound to be different. It’s was a major step up from high school – bringing new friends, new places and new experiences. My experience is a mix of both positive times and challenges. It was initially easy to make friends and I have learned to be a lot more independent.
But with friends, I managed to quickly overcome some challenges. I recall when I got to do my internship with Daily Monitor as a sports Reporter; where I was able to produce over 25 stories and 20 photos. As a student, working with one of the leading newspapers in Uganda was my greatest experience.
What are your career aspirations? Owning a business?
Owning a backup business and becoming an expert in my field of journalism.
What has the quarantine been like for you?
As a finalist, the quarantine has been like a thorn in my foot. Right now, I would have completed my last semester and would be trying to find a job.
But on the other hand, it has given me a chance to spend enough time at home working on my small coffee plantation.
When did you start farming?
I started farming in 2014 during my S.4 vacation and I planted 10 coffee trees around our banana plantation. Later in 2016, I used my F.6 vacation to add more trees.
What motivated you to start the coffee project?
My family status motivated me. It (Coffee growing) is a personal project but it stands there to help the whole family. Unlike some students who are born into rich families, I grew up in a humble family. As the first born in a family of 8 children (of three & five step children LOL) I had to find a way on how to survive in future.
My father, Mr. Fred Matsiko, is small scale businessman with two wives; of which my mother is a stay-home wife. With this kind of life, I didn’t want to burden my father with more expenses (such as upkeep money) on top of paying my school fees and rent. I planted coffee with expectations of generating money for my upkeep after joining the University.
How much do you grow and how big is the farm?
Per now I have over 300 coffee trees of Robusta on a half – acre piece of land. I want to add more trees to meet my plan of 1000 coffee trees in an acre. I expect to pocket about Ugx500,000/- from my harvest if the coffee price remains stable at Ugx4200/- per kilo of processed coffee.
Has it been more of a business for you, or a lifestyle choice?
I would say; a combination of both a business and lifestyle choice, because I never put in any capital. For instance, I only use local manure from goats, peelings plus swamp grasses I cut from our swampy area.
What challenges do you face?
I face many challenges, for instance inadequate labor because my mother is always at home alone. During my days at school, she has to do all home activities and chores. This makes it difficult for her to give my coffee plantation enough time or attention.
The other challenge is lack of support (in the form of capital and treated seedlings). You know, I have land but I lack money to by materials and the seedings.
Have you applied any knowledge from school into the farming you now do?
Well, not quite. However, I’ll to do so in my next planting segment.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to see my coffee plantation expanded. But I also have ambitions of becoming a successful journalist since journalism is my first love.
Let’s bring the future closer, where do you see yourself in five years: Agriculture or Journalism?
Both – with journalism alone you cannot survive forever. For example, I’m a sports enthusiast and due to this COVID19 pandemic, all sports events are suspended. This means without any other alternative source of income; sports journalists are suffering. I need agriculture to back up my profession.
Advice to fellow students. How can they make the most of this quarantine?
My advice to fellow students is to know that in life you need a back-up plan in whatever you do. No one knows you and your family background more than yourself. I also urge them to help their parents/ guardians at home; especially during this time. Also, do something that you always look at and remember that during the quarantine, I did this. You might not plant coffee trees like me but you can plant a tree, beans, cabbages, eggplants or any other crop. Basically, do something that’ll give you value, importance and relevance to yourself and those around you.