31- year- old Peter Opio of Olil village, Abwoch olil parish in Amach Sub County in Lira district lived a miserable life four years ago, Writes Immaculate Amony. However, his life has since changed after working hard to ensure his small family got at least one meal a day.
Opio grabs his 2 year old son’s hand as he vividly recalls: and says: “ I had nothing, nothing at all to call my own except beddings, a radio and a pregnant woman who shared with me my elder brother’s kitchen.”
According to Opio, imaginations of what and where next filled each new day. “My woman had to do house chores and also go to help in other people’s gardens to get some little money in order to prepare and receive the baby we were expecting. I wondered where we would live with my wife if my brother was to ask us out of their kitchen,” Opio recounts.
Opio however says it was the weekly Amach market that helped, besides the requirement of a reasonable amount of capital to start a business that would sustain their family.
“ it looked to me that everybody was selling chicken, goats, cows, produce and clothes but I wanted something that would not make me physically pull people to my stall as the rest of the traders were doing, so I thought and thought and thought…….,” Opio says.
“It was a cold windy evening, I was moving around listening to football broadcast on 94.3 Qfm a local radio station in Lira town when the presenter stopped for what they call a commercial break which really annoys when you are following the match, little did I know that the annoying commercial break would be my testimony today,” Opio adds.
He then wrote the telephone contact on the ground with his toes. The contact would later help him get orange potato vines.
Opio got his first two bags of vines from Perupetua Okao, a resident of Ngetta Sub- County. These two bags had four varieties, which included ejumula, kakamega, kabode and vita. He planted on a rented plot of land in May 2014.
Opio looks at the field from where his orange potato story was told and says: “this is my business which I started with thirty thousand Uganda shillings only.” Opio says, within three months his wife was already harvesting in piece meals.
Not bed of roses
Opio has however incurred losses in his journey to transforming from grass to grace. He says in his efforts to harvest better and bigger potatoes, he has encountered disease and pests.
Opio says the diseases have led to poor performance in the field, in turn leading to fewer supplies for his already established market.
He however tries hard to get clean vines and this is yielding fruit. Opio confirms that the orange potato has since not only expanded his market but it also turned to a delicacy, enjoyed by his family and neighbors.
“From these sales, I have been able to purchase my own plot of land at Shs 1.8m whose payment I completed early this year. It is I have planted the coming season’s potatoes,” Opio says.
Uganda National Household survey (UNHS) 2016/2017 by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicates that the household poverty line has increased from 19 .7 % to 27 %, meaning that out of 10 people, 3 are below the poverty line clearly stating that they are failing to afford 3 meals a day.
Monica Ruth Acan, an officer working with World Vision Uganda says the organization in conjunction with Harvest Plus has been able to register 2200 of such households in Amach Sub County alone.
The two organizations facilitate the beneficiaries with bags of orange sweet potato vines, 2 kilograms of iron rich bean seed and train them on agronomy, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation as well as marketing support with the hope of reducing poverty levels in their areas of operation.