We do not find a lot of young people who are eager to take up farming as a career but this is what Desire Isiguzo loves to do and she’s making a business out of it.
She started growing oyster mushroom indoors which produced a good yield. After graduating from the University, she began to grow plants and study their growth behavior. Now, she has acquired plots of lands to move her business to another level.
Desire helps to strengthen the local market by purchasing crops from the women traders. She then processes it into high-quality bean flour.
She’s now is growing her agricultural brand- D’Yucca to be one of the prominent agricultural brands in Africa meeting both local and international standards.
How was growing up for you?
Growing up was everything for me, I was happy and I got all that I wanted from my family. My mom was a farmer and a civil servant.
Back then, I hated following her to the farm because I hated working in the blistering sun but I was made to follow them still. I was given seeds of corn to plant and I would dig up the soil. I was lazy about it, I felt it was stressful and it would make my hands dirty.
When I saw my seeds sprout for the first time, I was excited to see that I had created something.
When did you realize that Agriculture was something you wanted to do?
In 2010, I started out planting plantain which I did to earn some money for myself in school. Later on, it began to turn into more than just an avenue for money.
I realize that farming was something I thought about daily and I couldn’t stay a day without learning something about it.
Why did you study Plant Science and Biotechnology? Did it influence your farming business?
Initially, I wanted to study Agriculture, which did not work out. Non-traditional agriculture opened my eyes to different aspects of farming.
During our industrial training, we were taken to large farms, where we saw the practicability of what we were taught. We were also able to practice what we saw even though we were not paid. Biotechnology teaches you how to stay in business in agriculture. I think school fanned my flame for farming.
What is the role technology plays in innovation and planting?
It solves a lot of problems. In storing cassava the conventional way, it can only last a day or two before it gets bad. But with Biotechnology, you can bury them in sawdust and sprinkle water on them and like they were never harvested, this keeps them preserved.
This is a post-harvest management technique. Other methods include seed bank preservation, which is preserving seeds by freezing. We also do seed multiplication with mushroom.
In hydroponics, you get to regulate the environment of your farm: temperature, pest, sunlight, and water thereby deciding what gets in and out of your plant. This gives you a better yield for business.
Where did your distinct brand name – D’Yucca come from?
In school, I was battling with a name for my brand. While I was thinking about it, I stumbled on a plant that is always green. I started reading about it and I found out that it is called Yucca.
This plant can survive fire, drought, and flood. Its tenacious characteristics made me name my brand after it. After my internship, I started making bean flour. I got an excellent grade for my project and begin to think that maybe this was credible and doable.
Did you experience challenges as a young Agropreneur?
Yes, I did. After my first mushroom project yielded a result, I put in all of my money into the second project and I did not harvest a thing. I made a mistake in culturing the sawdust used for growing the mushroom and all the plants died.
It was a painful loss but I learned not to skip on my precaution process again. Capital too is a constant challenge for me.
Where did your business capital and funding come from?
My mom! She believed in me and encouraged me. A lot of people tried to discourage me when I asked for funding. They said I won’t go through with it, that I was too young and I was a girl.
Why do you choose to specialize in growing Mushroom indoors?
Growing up we would gather mushroom from fallen trees in the farm. We would cover them in cocoyam leaves. My mom had a special way of roasting it and I loved it.
Growing mushroom at home reminds me of old times and of course, gives me the chance to eat it whenever I want to. Mushroom is also very healthy and it can easily replace red meat in the diet of diabetic people.
How did you find people to support you and join your team?
Every member of our team has their strength and I leave them where they are the strongest. They are all part-time now. Everyone has been part of the process, sharing ideas and critiquing my ideas.
I also have friends who are good in business whom I seek help and advice from.
Where do you see D’Yucca in 5 years?
Our logo typifies what D’Yucca is all about. The thirteen leaves signify the various aspects we want to branch into in future. In five years we would have used up three of these leaves: tomato production, processing, and edible oil production
For young entrepreneurs venturing into Agriculture, what do you say to them?
Start small. I already talked about my experience of losing my entire savings in a haste to do something big.
Don’t pause because consistency is key. Keep getting your hands dirty and your hard work will pay off.
When desire isn’t working, what does she do?
She’s stalking her mentor online, cooking, reading, learning a new skill or having her beauty sleep.
This article was originally published in She Leads Africa