Meet Mathias Kasamba, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP, who loves farming to the extent that he talks farming wherever he goes and whenever you meet him.
He has been a legislator for 18 years, but he is not about to give up farming. A graduate of Political Science from Makerere University, Kasamba chaired the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture for most of the three terms he served as Kakuuto MP from 2001 to 2016.
That he was also elected chairperson Committee of Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources in the Arusha-based EALA is further testimony to his enduring love of agriculture.
Kasamba says his love for agriculture started when he was a child after his parents Joseph Lwekunda (RIP) and Eufrazia Lukowe (RIP) introduced him to farming.
“I’m not ashamed of agriculture because as soon as day breaks, someone has to eat something and whatever he/she eats is a product from the garden. Coffee played a major role in my studies up to Makerere University from where I graduated in 1990,” he says.
Owing to the impact agriculture had on his life, Kasamba wanted to engage in it on a commercial scale; so, he started a farm in 1996 – Kasamba Farm Agro Enterprises Limited, in Kannamiti village, Kakuuto sub-county.
“We own farmland of about 250 acres with coffee, bananas, fruits, tomatoes, etc. We also have an animal husbandry section [with] cows, piggery, goats and rabbits. We also have the forestry section [with] eucalyptus, pine, and 6,000 jackfruit trees.”
Kasamba has also established infrastructure for modern agricultural training to other farmers. In fact, he wants to develop Kasamba Farm Agro Enterprises as a centre of excellence for agricultural transformation in East Africa.
“I’m still convinced that agriculture which is said to be the backbone of Uganda’s economy and an employer of more that 75% of Uganda’s population, can still gainfully employ Ugandans. What needs to be done is to re-prioritize it, re-brand it and of course put in the required funding and training,” he says. “We need to have an agrarian revolution in our country.”
Kasamba recently hosted officials from Bukalasa Agriculturaal College at the farm and he was elated with the positive ratings he recieved.
Commenting on their tour, the Principal of Bukalasa Agricultural College, Gelvan Kisolo Lule, says based on what they saw, the institution will be sending students to Kasamba for internship.
“The farm of more than 250 acres with modern agricultural implements like tractors and auto weeders meets our criteria,” Lule says.
An auto weeder is a powered multipurpose garden tool that weeds, ploughs, slashes and even has a power saw. It uses half a litre of petrol to weed half an acre of a garden.
The farm has an apiary, coffee plantation, trees, banana plantation, and more. Each section has a person directly responsible for it while the legislator is away for parliamentary duties.
Kasamba’s wife is the overall coordinator. The Kasambas also have twin daughters and Nakato Rose Nassiwa, a second-year Kyambogo University student of Statistics is directly in charge of the rabbits project.
Kasamba initially bought her 20 rabbits, but now they are more than 180. Nassiwa says key among the rabbit types she keeps are New Zealand White, Angola, and Scotland White, among others.
“Though rabbits conceive quickly after giving birth, it would be suitable to keep male rabbits from mother rabbits for a period ranging from two weeks to a month. This will enable a mother rabbit to rest and produce quality rabbits the next time it conceives,” Nassiwa says.
The legislator says he gave his children rabbits as their own project to teach them how to nurture something.
“In western Uganda when a child is born, he/she is given a cow to enable him or her to learn to love cows and to care for them from infancy. So, this child is taught how to earn an income from an early stage and he/she is not pampered. I hate pampering children because if you pamper them, they will not be able to stand on their own,” Kasamba says.
The farm does not rear chicken on a commercial scale, because they discovered they are expensive to manage in terms of resources and time. Most of the farm employees are professionals in their respective fields, some of them fresh graduates from Bukalasa.
Capitalisation a challenge
Coffee is the main crop, covering 35 acres so far, with 100 more to be planted in the next three years. So far more than Shs 2bn has been sunk into the farm that generates about Shs 150m in profit annually. However, most of the profits are invested back into the farm after paying workers, because attracting capital and loans for agriculture is not easy.
Kasamba says key among the challenges are the lack of committed workers, financial capitalization, expensive agro inputs and supervision because he is away in Arusha most of the time.
Who is Kasamba?
Born on June 3, 1963, Ssaalongo Mathias Kasamba is married to Nnaalongo Christine Nnalunga Kasamba, with whom they have six children.
Kasamba joined the Ugandan parliament in 2001 representing Kakuuto until May 2016. He was the Chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Agriculture for most of that time; in March 2017 he was elected to EALA, where he also chairs the Agricultural committee.
Kasamba’s wife holds a diploma in Accounts. Kasamba is also the patron for Crop Life Uganda.