By Michael Atwakiire
Sheema: Monica Kyomuhangi, a 54-year-old woman from a deep village in Kabirizi cell, Kakindo town council, in Sheema district, has urged fellow women and slay queens in Kampala especially, to stop begging their husbands and parents for money, but to instead use their heads and hands to earn it by taking advantage of Skilling Uganda programs.
Kyomuhangi, a famous and model farmer of toadstools (mushrooms) in the area, boasted that although she has never joined any higher institution of learning, diploma and degree holders kneel down for her, pleading that she skills them in various activities, especially on how to grow toadstools, locally known as ‘Obutuzi’ or Obutiko in Luganda.
The Grandma said she has been engaging in the venture for the past four years and as such, has a lot of experience, reason she became a model farmer in western Uganda.
“Ever since Sheema Woman Member of Parliament (MP) Hon Jacklet Atuhaire Rwabukurukuru organised a free workshop for all women in the area and taught them (groups of women) how to grow toadstools and other skills through a skilling Uganda program, I kicked poverty out of my life.
I invested a little money which I borrowed from my elder sister and bought toadstools seeds for less than Shs100,000. I also bought black polythene papers worth Shs80,00 and built a grass-thatched house, then started growing”.
“After a month I started harvesting toadstools which I put on the market and started selling them, got over Shs500,000,” she said.
Kyomuhangi noted that since then, she stopped begging for money from her husband and that every month before and during the COVID-19 period, she collects approximately Shs800,000 from her venture.
She added that what makes her business more profitable is because all materials and catalysts used to make toadstools are locally made and ever available like sawdust, coffee and bean husks which are packed in a black polythene paper and kept in a dark room for over 3 weeks, that in one polythene bag, she collects toadstools for a period of over three months, worth Shs400,000.
As a result of that success, Kyomuhangi said that she now trains over 60 people in and around her area who pay her for the service.
She thus requested Hon. Atuhaire to lobby for a model farm from government in Sheema District, specifically for producing toadstools, saying that the market demand she has now is beyond her levels of production, yet those she had started training were stopped by presidential directives on COVID-19, of avoiding crowding and maintaining social distance.
When our reporter talked to Hon. Atuhaire about the matter, she said that immediately after government lifts the lockdown and allows public gatherings, she will organize other free workshops throughout Sheema District to train whoever will be willing to acquire money-making skills, and that the starting up of a model farm for toadstool growing on a large scale will depend on the quality and quantity of production.