Forty-six-year-old Herbert Munyambaraga lives in Munyonyo, Kampala district in Uganda with his wife and six children, and used to be a successful timber dealer.
One fateful day he received a phone call from one of his workmates that fire had gutted down his timber store. Timber worth millions of shillings was destroyed in the fire. According to Munyambaraga, by the time he reached the site there was nothing to save. He became very depressed with no hope for the future. His timber business was his only source of income.
He even left his main home and built a shack house nearby where he slept every night. “I felt ashamed, I didn’t want my children and wife to see me in such a hopeless state,” says Munyambaraga.
Every day he wondered how he would feed and pay school fees for his children as he had lost his only source of income. He didn’t have capital to start another business and had approached friends for small loans in vain.
It was a February 14 afternoon when Munyambaraga participated in one of WGI’s aquaponics awareness meeting (rearing fish and growing crops in a symbiotic relationship) in Ggaba Makindye that he saw a ray of hope. WGI had organised this particular meeting for Makindye Farmers Association to which Munyambaraga was one of the newest members.
He had been convinced to join the farmer association and learn about modern farming techniques by a friend and former workmate in timber business.
At the time, Munyambaraga was still in search for an alternative source of livelihood and income. He was going through one of the most stressful moments in his life. “When I heard about Aquaponics farming, I said to myself, ‘I must seize this opportunity,’” he says.
I must seize this opportunity.
After the awareness meeting, Munyambaraga approached WGI and expressed interest in starting aquaponics farming. He was taught the advantages of aquaponics farming that include farming on small pieces of land; water use efficiency, high yields per unit area, and impressive incomes. He continued to learn more on how to manage the aquaponics unit.
In the third week of March 2018, WGI gave him an aquaponics unit and stocked it with green vegetables, including collard greens and tomatoes. Munyambaraga has been able to harvest vegetables that he sells mostly at the market, but he also leaves some at home as a source of nutrition for his family.
With more earnings, he hopes to be able to pay school fees for his children and health services. He still waits for the fish yields. Aquaponics has restored his hope for a better future, and he intends to expand his business.
Munyambaraga is now a source of inspiration to his neighbours and is training them on how to manage aquaponics units.
“WGI has made me fall in love with farming. I am very thankful for the project,” he says.
This story was written by Aisha Nalwoga, Fisheries Officer, Water Governance Institute. Photo credit: Frank Ssegawa, Project Assistant, Water Governance Institute.