A Secret Worth Sharing in Busota, Uganda
Meet Margaret Elumuka
Seated under a big tree, three women speak in animated tones. A few feet away, a radio sits on a stool, booming Luganda sundowner’s music. One of the women is named Margaret Elumuka. Last season, she planted one-tenth of an acre of maize as a One Acre Fund demonstration plot. She harvested 573 pounds from this tiny plot.
After such a successful harvest, Margaret began receiving multiple visitors every day. Other farmers wanted to learn her secret.
Initially, Margaret had been hesitant to plant a demo plot with One Acre Fund. However, a few visits from a One Acre Fund field officer working in the village helped convince her to give it a try. Using One Acre Fund’s planting methods, the field officer explained, her plot would serve as an example of what could be achieved using modern techniques.
“I had never planted using fertilizer or hybrid seed before,” Margaret says. “I did not think that applying small amounts of fertilizer or using hybrid seed would make any difference to my farm.”
Without quality inputs, or techniques such as micro-dosing fertilizer, Margaret's farm had yielded discouraging harvests. The season before her demo plot, she had experienced her worst-ever harvest of 198 pounds of maize from a full acre.
“Despite all my hard effort, my harvest deteriorated every season. I reached a point where I was farming because everyone else was doing it, not because I felt it was important for my life,” Margaret says.
Apart from using fertilizer and hybrid seed for the first time, Margaret also planted in a new way – the one recommended to her by the One Acre Fund field officer. Seemingly overnight, her land transformed into a thick quilt of dark-green maize. Her farm became the talk of the whole village.
“It was a miracle that neither I nor anyone else in the village had expected. Every day I walked to the farm, I was surprised to see that the maize had grown a bit more than the previous day. I could not believe it,” Margaret says.
Eager to repeat Margaret’s success, more than 100 smallholder farmers in Busota village have enrolled with One Acre Fund this season. Tonight, the night before farmers are set to receive the planting supplies they’ve purchased on credit, the whole village is abuzz with excitement.
Input delivery will take place about 50 meters from Margaret’s home. She plans to keep her morning schedule light so that she can arrive early and lead her group of farmers in a review of the planting trainings that they’ve been receiving from One Acre Fund over the past few months.
Margaret will receive the planting supplies about a month before the expected onset of the rainy season, and although it is still very early, she already has her sights set sky-high. Her land is tilled and ready for planting, and she hopes for a harvest of at least 2,976 pounds of maize from half an acre.
With renewed hope, Margaret can now afford to dream big. She envisions buying two cows from her harvest profits this season.
Margaret reaches out to turn the radio up a notch higher. Her two friends grin widely.
“We love listening and dancing to music when we are happy, and this is such a thrilling moment for us,” Margaret says as her friends laugh.