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Ugandan girl shares secrets of reaping from sweet peppers

Margaret Katono, 25, studied leadership and governance at Makerere University but her passion was in farming. She now grows sweet peppers, onions and cucumbers, among others, in a thriving business that shows the youth that there is money in the soil
Her long flowing hair, her black blouse and grey trouser gives little indication that Margaret Katono, who farms in Kasangati in Uganda, is a farmer.
Margaret, 25, represents the new face of farming in Uganda, with her greenhouse where she grows sweet pepper, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers standing out.
They are neatly grown in black nylon pots and are supplied with water using drip irrigation pipes, with each getting just as much as it needs.
“My farm is called Tele-agriculture and it stands for abundance. My vision is to convert agriculture dreams into reality by enabling farmers engage in knowledge-based, profitable, farming while conserving the environment,” says the farmer, who holds a Bachelor in Leadership and Governance degree from Makerere University’s School of Business.
She has also studied an agricultural course in horticulture, enabling her to plenty of knowledge in production of various crops.
Margaret says that she always believed that agribusiness is the way to go and moved to actualize her dream. 
“I always wanted to do something to inspire and empower the youths. I started small on family land in Bugiri, Namayumba with just 300,000 Ugandan shillings and consistently worked hard to grow the business,” she says.
Her agribusiness has since grown in folds and she currently has two greenhouses and open field farms. 
“I do greenhouse production of sweet peppers, tomatoes of beef steak and oval shape varieties, and cucumber and in the field, I grow onions and egg plants,” she says. 
To widen her revenue streams, she trains farmers on her farm, sharing practical knowledge that she says empowers them. 
To maximize her yields, especially from the greenhouses, she mixes her soil with charcoal dust, chicken manure and sand. 
However, before putting the soil in the pots, she steams it to kill pathogens, a practice that has ensured she harvests in plenty.
“I make sure I apply pesticides and fumigate consistently as per the instructions from the agronomist. This has minimised most of the challenges on the farm,” she says.
She markets her produce on social medial platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Mkulima Young.
“I also visit different markets like Nakasero, Kalerwe and nearby towns. I really think the role of digital technology in farming is understated. It supports monitoring farming activities and optimises the application of agricultural inputs,” says Margaret, who adds that digitisation opens up opportunities with different value chain players like financial institution and insurance companies, especially in this era of crop insurance. 
Margaret is keen on recordkeeping, ensuring every single expense on the farm is properly recorded for accountability.
“This has helped me spearhead the business to growth. I have one worker on the farm but in case of more work, I get some casual workers to help out.”
She encourages the youth to be confident and get into agribusiness because that is the future of employment.
“My recipe for success is that one should understand the priorities of her business and ensure that they get knowledge of what they are doing,” she says.

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... Mkulima Young Team

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Greenhouse, Capiscum, Youth and Agriculture