At first sight she does not capture your attention until you discover her personality and character.
She noted that I did not believe that as youthful as she looks, she can be a farmer and activist for food security in her community. Yet look can be deceptive.
As soon as Sofia Night Apophia saw me, she immediately told me that when a home has enough food to feed its members, it’s one way of granting food stability in the community and country at large.
Sofia a resident of Munobwa village, Hima Parish, Bugaki sub-county in Kyenjojo district grew up knowing that in order for the country to ensure food security and avoid scarcity of food and prolonged famine, each home must have enough food all the time.
Sofia is connived that Uganda has the potential to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty if each family engages in production and stocking food. She believes if all Ugandans enhance food storing it will reduce on the problem of malnourished children in the country.
“Ensuring food security where people have access to enough food, nutritionally adequate diet, is also vital to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger,” says the mother of two.
Mentoring young generation
Mentoring young generation is what drove Sofia to construct granaries in Kitumba , East Division in Fort Portal Municipality to teach the young generation the importance of stocking food.
Sofia has partnered with Akaswa ka Tooro a non-government organization to train young girls in food security and production.
“People’s mentality has changed on stocking food, we have to teach them young so that we prepare their attitude towards storing food at an early age,” Sofia says.
Sofia also teaches the community to engage in production of food crop that are long lasting like cassava and immune to drought.
Jane Kabasinguzi one of beneficiaries of Sofia’s initiative said that she used to work in tea plantation and all the money she used to earn was going back to buying food yet she had a small land to do food production.
“I realized, all the money I was paid at Munobwa tea factory was ending in buying food, I did not know that I could put to good use my small piece of land and produce food for my family and for sell. One day Sofia called a meeting and told us the importance of having our food. Since then I have never looked back,” Kabasinguzi says.
Innocent Muhumuza is full of praises of the efforts made by Sofia to sensitize them on food production. Muhumuza says, through the meetings organized by Sofia, the community has benefited a lot from her in terms knowledge and partnership.
Muhumuza disclosed that Sofia lobbied the Rotary of Iganga for them and each family of Munobwa village got a water tank for harvesting water.
Muhumuza owns three acres of banana, but after getting advice from Sofia, he also started a cabbage project to increase on his household income.
Beekeeping and community
Sofia is so passion about beekeeping and her community to ensure that the quality of their standards of living improves. The love for beekeeping made her to give up on accountancy professional to keep bees and serve her community.
A career she started at Bunyangabu Bee keeping Community (BBC) in Kabarole District in 2000, Sofia has transferred her experience to her community by organizing and uniting all beekeepers and actively involves them in bee keeping activities so as to improve their economic welfare.
She formed Munobwa Tukore Namani Beekeeping group in 2010 and it has 25 members who are all engaged in bee keeping and food production. She constructed apiary house and bought over 70 beehives to give to the community to generate income.
She also lobbied Gats International which gave her the beehives, protective gears, and honey processing machines which she distributed to her group.
The group acts as a role model to other neighboring areas to spread the gospel of food security, bee keeping and nutrition among others.
Peter Akorabingi said that, Sofia has taught them how to keep and harvest bees, and the use of propolis and beewax, most of which has been sold in the local market.
“We want to use the knowledge Sofia has given us to be the best in api-culture value chain and community social responsibility in Rwenzori region,” Akorabingi said.
According to Sofia, the bee keeping project will help the community to increase the income and improve on their standards of living.
She says that the members have been able to get income from honey they harvest from beehives. They harvest 15 kgs of honey from each beehive and sell a kilo at shs 10,000.
“Beekeeping is cheap and does not require a lot of labour. It’s also suitable for old people because it is not tiring,” she says.
Sofia also harvest other people beehives at fees, charging sh 20,000 per beehive.
“We depend on nature to tap bees and if the nature is not our side, they we lose,” she says.