Many call her a traditional woman because she still believes that every family should have a granary in a home.
A practice, she learnt from her grandmother, Grace Businge says that it is shame for women to stay without granaries and gardens of sweet potatoes, dry maize and cassava gardens.
Her compound is surrounded by fruits ranging from oranges, paw-paw, mangos, guavas, sugarcanes, carrots, onions, green paper among others. She also planted mangos in her farm to provide shed for her cows and get fruits from at the same time.
“Right from my childhood I knew it’s a shame and a high level of laziness for a woman to be there without a home garden. Husbands and children look up to us for food security and as women we must provide it at all times,” she says.
Businge 49 a resident of Nsoro I, Kitereza ward, Kijura town council in Kabarole district says that the prolonged drought has not affected her because she stocks food to prepare for unpredicted famine.
Businge has no kind words for women who have abandoned the practice of stocking food in the name of modernity.
She says that if women were stocking food, Uganda would not have had the food crisis and increase in prices would not surface.
“High food prices were a result of people who have refused to stock school because they think that is not modern. I was hearing people crying that food is becoming expensive but my family was not affected because I has enough millet, beans, maize, dry yams, cassava, obutuzi ( mushrooms), and others things in stock,” she says.
She says that in her home, there are more than ten people and she ensures that they get food and have a surplus for selling.
In her bid to preserve food, Businge dries yams and cassava to keep them for a long time for purposes of food security. The mother of four also dries cabbage, eggplants carrots, dodo and other assorted vegetable to prepare for the times when source is scarce so that her family does not lack what to eat.
Businge says that she has learnt a way how to protect her food stored in a traditional granary by cutting iron sheets in around shape and put it around the stands of the granary to prevent ants and rats from entering her granary.
Businge gives out seeds of sweet potatoes, cassava, Irish maize, banana suckers to her community members so that they can have enough food.
“ I teach my community good practices of farming and give them seedlings because I want us to be uniform and stay on the same page on terms of developing our area and fight famine,” she says.
Oranges did the miracles for Businge
Businge says that when she came to Kijura in 1997, people told her that oranges cannot grow in the area and she gave it a try , but to her surprise the oranges came out well and the harvest was perfect. She says that she now earns sh 50, 0000 every day from her oranges.
“People tried to discourage me that oranges can never grow here, I decided to plant three oranges in my compound as a trail but I was shocked to harvest four bags from them. This was a turning point for me to start it as project for income generation,” Businge said.
People starting coming to her home to learn good methods of farming and she was offering it for free with a dream of more people acquiring the knowledge so that her community can improve in agriculture.
In 2003, NAADS was rolled in Hakibale sub-county in Kabarole district; Businge sold banana sackers to the program and used the money to buy more land to expand her farming activities.
Businge has made over 50 beehives to distribute to women and the youth in her community as one way of fighting poverty.
“Honey is on demand and I believe it will transform people lives,” she said. Because of efforts, her village was made a mode zone for NADDS.
Businge does not only stock food but also goes for another extra mile of harvesting water for her home use, watering her plants and animals. She constructed an underground tank of 50,000 litters to tap rain water.
“Harvesting water is very important for every family; it’s a cheap way of getting clean water. Italso save them from searching for water during dry season like now we are experiencing,” she adds.
Businge is determined to change make a difference in people’s lives by all means , a reason she has engaged in fish farming as a model to teach her community how to do it in order to increase on the nutrition of their families and income.
Grace Businge keeps only two cows on zero grazing which gives her 40 litters of milk in dry season and 80 in rain season.
“It’s about patience and good planning that we can achieve food security in this country. People should also take advantage of our good soils and the markets available in the neighboring countries,” she counsels.
President Museveni inspired her
In 1995, when president Museveni was moving around the country sensitizing the masses of the program popular known as “ okulembeka” it’s when Businge realized that something was wrong in Uganda.
She recollects Museveni’s words of encouragement of using small land for profitable projects and when she went back home, she decided to put what the president taught into practice.
She incorporated the knowledge she learnt from President Museveni and her grandmother to start the war of food security.
“The president changed my way of thinking, because I knew that money was only coming from business like selling in shops but after his talk, I told myself that I am not going into business and choose to do farming,” she says.
Rose Atwoki, one of the women that benefited from Businge says that she has changed people’s attitude toward food security and now more people stock food.
“Businge us sweet potatoes vines (emikamba), cassava cuttings to improve on the food security. She is a role model for us and gives us information and skills in everything we do,” she says.
Mable Kusemererwa another beneficiary says that Businge has taught them to bake bread, make herbal jelly and soap to improve on their household income.
“I copied the technology she used to construct a underground water tank which has helped me to save time searching for water,” Juliet Kahunde said.
Businge has acquired a motorcycle tractor of sh 4.5m to transport her produce from the gardens in order to reduce the postharvest loses.
Businge, who started with one acre, has been able to expand to six acres of land, using the money she gets from matoke and oranges. Businge earns sh 800,000 from her banana plantation every month.
She also takes care of twelve orphans and vulnerable children, giving those scholastic materials and two of them are at the university level. She has formed eight groups of women and youth Kijura Women and Youth Development Association to start the gospel of food security, solve the unemployment problem and fight poverty in households.
However her most significant achievement which she is proud of is having food for her family all the time.
Businge says that the most challenge her community faces is that the area is sounded by tea plantations and most people have small pieces of land while others don’t have at all.
She says that this has affected the food security in area. “If you don’t have land then you cannot have food,” she says. She identified drunkard and less commitment of men towards food security, saying that all the burden of food security have been left to women.
“Women are overload with work, producing and looking after children while men are busy drinking. Men are not supportive,” she adds.
Businge is also disappointed with some of her community members whom she gave seeding and they ended up eating them instead of planting them to multiply.