Meet Robert Tigarya
Robert Tigarya, a 30-year-old father of three, had no doubt in his mind about what he wanted to do in his life. Growing up, his peers left Lulyambuzi Village, Uganda, in search of white-collar jobs in the city, but Robert never abandoned his early passion for farming. Seated atop a mountain of maize outside his home, Robert's smile tells the story of a man satisfied with his achievement.
"This is the moment I've always dreamed about: becoming the best farmer in my village. I'm very happy," Robert says, lifting one large cob after another from his pile.
Robert's journey to becoming the best farmer of Lulyambuzi has taken him six difficult years. Until last year, he was on the verge of giving up on farming altogether. He gestures to one small corner in his house where he's stored his harvest in the past. Most years, about four months after harvest, the corner was empty. Robert's family would have quickly run out of food, and for the rest of the year, he would have to borrow from neighbors and local shop owners.
"I know I have a responsibility to provide for my family. My children are very important to me, and I get very sad if I'm not able to provide enough for them," Robert says, cradling his youngest daughter Tracy in his arms.
Robert would work long hours each day on his farm, hoping his hard work would bring about the strong harvests he'd always dreamed of. In spite of his efforts, nothing changed— the small corner in his home would sit empty just a few months after harvest. Then, in August of last year, his friends told him about One Acre Fund, an organization working with farmers in his village.
A Determination to Succeed
Robert enrolled in One Acre Fund's program, purchasing a half-acre's worth of hybrid maize seed and fertilizer on credit. For the first time in his life, Robert planted with hybrid seed and fertilizer, something he could never afford before. In One Acre Fund trainings, he learned how to properly apply fertilizer using a microdosing technique.
This season, Robert's harvest filled all the corners of his house.
"This harvest is amazing— I'm at a loss for words to explain it. I'm even worried I might not have enough space to store it in my house!" Robert laughs. The corners of Robert's house – and the bowls of his family – won't be empty anytime soon. Now, he's not only able to feed his family, he's also able to sell the surplus produce at market. Last month, he sold part of his harvest and bought a motorcycle. The motorcycle has not only made it easier for Robert to get around, he also earns money from transporting other people. On average, he earns $5 USD every day from his investment.
With the money he earns from his motorcycle business, Robert is planning to buy a cow. In the future, once he's generated even more savings, he plans to plaster the walls of his house and buy more land.
"I now know farming can be a business," Robert smiles. "Now that I've started benefiting from my business, I look forward to expanding it and enjoying more success in the future."