Town dwellers are lazy and idlers- Kagombe
By Hope Mafaranga
“People who stay in town and depend on small salaries are lazy and idle. They fear to engage in agriculture because they lack the right vision to see the goodness in farming,” these are the first words Charles Kagombe told me as I arrived at his home in Kitoma village, Nyakayojo Sub-county in Mbarara district.
How he started
Kagombe becomes popular when his Zana Complex pub and lodge was booming, it was the first happening place in Ruti and people who were heading to Kabale and Rwanda would make a stopover for a cold beer.
Augustine Murebe, one of the locals in the area said: “Zana Complex was a prominent place to an extend that people around used to sell their land and property to come and hang out there,”
Kagombe was a prominent business and most people thought he was doing well because he used to import clothes from India and sell them in Mbarara. He owned multiple business entities that one ever thought could never quite his trading for farming.
Getting into farming
25 years ago, Kagombe, chose to leave his accounting job at Mbarara district and his other business to engage in farming and decided to put to good use of the 60 acres of land he had inherited from his late father.
“After releasing that our land in Rwampara was fertile, I did not see any reason of wasting my time in the office earning peanuts yet I knew that my fortune and riches where hidden in the soil. I had to get out of comfort zone, get hoe and dig my gold out of that soil. You see the results for yourself,” He said.
Kagombe now is household name is the circles of agriculture, as soon you mention his names; people will quickly identify him as the man who owns the biggest banana planation in western Uganda. Others will tell him as successful matoke grower in the region.
The father of seven said that agriculture has less risks compared to other business yet the returns are commendable.
“You cannot compare agriculture with other businesses. The risks are fewer and manageable and it’s earning are good. I can never stop farming,” he said.
He explains that he started farming on a 60 acres of land after seeing that people in town were idlers who needed food but those who were in the villages in production of food in large quantities were fewer.
He also bought more 150 acres to keep cows and goats but later abandoned the idea to concentrate on matoke growing.
Other investments / Achievements
Kagombe planted 20acres of trees and he is targeting to sell them to UMEME and earns big from it. He also planted 10 acres of sugarcanes, built rentals in Kampala and Mbarara, and educated his children and his is living a good life.
“I don’t stress with life, I have achieved the entire basis a man desires and I just chill and play golf during my free time,” he boosts.
Where he gets his labour
Kagombe has also created jobs for the youth. He employs 40 people among them; three are diploma holders in agricultures related field. He pays them between sh 150,000 to 300,000, gives them accommodation and food.
In pick reason, he hires prisoners to give a hand.
“When work is too much, I hire about 30 prisoners every day to assist. I pay sh 3,000 for each, feed and transport them , pay the security guards sh 10,000 who guards while at my farm and they really do a great job,” he said. The workers are headed by his wife Edruyi Kgombe who is the production manager at the firm.
The really money
Kagombe can proudly say that he earns real money, touches it and feels it. On weekly basis he gets 600 bunches of matoke from his plantation and sells each at sh 15,000 which earns him 9m weekly.
“I earn real cash. My children are graduates with good jobs, I told them that even if they put together their salaries, it can never add up to what I earn from my matoke. So what is the use of being employed? He asked.
Among the things that worry Kagombe, marketing his matoke is not among them. He says that he has a ready market because tracks come from Kampala, pack at his home and load matoke. He also has a 24 hours market at Ruti in Mbarara were Lorries come from Kigali and Kampala to buy matoke.
Banana bacteria wilt is a threat. He however has been able to control it. He has also advocated for a bylaw in his village to curb down the spread of the wilt.
“Banana bacteria wilt is like HIV/AIDS if you don’t protect yourself against it, you will contract it,” he said. He helps his neighbors to treat the wilt and has enabled farmers to by a bylaw in place to punish those that will not treat the bacteria.
People should choose their main enterprise because if you engage in many, chances are they will miss out in many ways.
He said that the Runyankore proverb of “Katungye ente n’orutokye having is one proverbs that has tied people in poverty.
“I had 200 cows and a big banana plantation but I could not handle both big projects. I weighed to see what was giving me more money and sacrificed cows for matoke. I am proud that I have made this progress in this farming,” He said.
He said that many farmers want to eat everything they invest and don’t want to give back and inject in more money in the project.
“If you want to succeed in agriculture, eat 50 percent and put back 50 percent in terms of paying workers and other farm expensive, but if you want to do everything for yourself, you die,” he counsels.