Josephine Bienenama spent many years of her life working as a civil servant in her home country of Uganda. Recently retired from that work, she now divides her time between managing a local community school serving more than 100 local needy and orphaned children and overseeing a small team of farmers a her 1.5 acre plot at The World Food Bank’s Mbarara Farm.
Josephine is no stranger to agriculture. She raised three children on a small piece of land near Mbarara, where both she and her husband have lived and worked for many years, growing smaller crops for side income to their work as civil servants. Through this, Josephine and her family have been party to many of the challenges of Uganda’s agriculture system.
Since retiring from her civil servant position five years ago, Josephine began working for a local maize plantation before coming to the World Food Bank’s farm. On that plantation, she experienced crops becoming overcome by pests and aflatoxin. Due to these problems, Josephine says she lost most of her former crops post-harvest, as it wasn’t fit for human or animal consumption.
Now at the Mbarara Farm, Josephine is is helping to oversee our latest soya crops. She is enthusiastic about the access to storage solutions for the food that she is working to grow, as well as the access to guidance on proper farming techniques she receives from her colleagues. Before coming to Mbarara, she says that she didn’t have access to all of the agronomic services – like advice on planting, spacing, and irrigation – that she has now.
“It is very exciting and different and the work is better,” said Josephine’s daughter, Martina Tumusiime, who is studying business administration at the local university. “In the past, she has had many issues with the soil being poor, the climate being tricky, and the problem of pests, as well as poor storage, infrastructure, and the markets. All of these things made it very challenging. The markets have been challenging because the prices are always fluctuating and shifting.”
Martina said Josephine is very encouraged by the stability she sees the World Food Bank providing to local food systems in Uganda. “She is grateful for it,” she said. “And she is happy for the experience and knowledge she is gaining working at the Mbarara Farm.”