Members photos on Growingfruit


#261

Playing with apples with the wifey in the local mountains. Rome beauty in my hand, Mexican beauty on the other arm.


#262

Uganda nursery Director John Baptist Lwanga (who is filling East Africa with apples)


#263

Applenut,
Your wife is a Mexican beauty, indeed.

I love to read about your apple growing project (if that is a right term) in Uganda. Where can I read about it, please?


#264

Mamuang, the Uganda nursery is actually a for-profit corporation, and was all the idea of the Ugandans and staffed wholly by Ugandans. First of all, I want to comment on all the little things we take for granted. The field you see was cleared by machete, and is mowed by machete, usually by a woman. Women dug half the 5x5x3' deep planting holes,



Tractors and mowers are available, but you'd end up putting a bunch of people out of work, and man do they work.

Uganda has had an apple industry for years, but it was struggling along with just Anna and Dorset Golden varieties, and no relevant information on how to care for them. The nursery enterprise has been intended to introduce better varieties and teach tropic apple culture geared toward the rural tropic apple farmer.


#265

They've become expert at training the trees to proper form to avoid the runaway apical dominance that is common in the tropics. This helps to calm the tree and revert it to fruiting mode. It takes about five years for the M111 rootstocks to start coming into production, an eternity to the African farmer who's used to a banana tree fruiting 9 months after planting.


#266

Thanks, Fruitnut. I'm always fascinated by how people grow temperate fruit in a tropical climate. I know apples and other temperate fruit can be grown in northern Thailand in areas where elevation is high enough.

Farmers cannot compete with cheap/inexpensive, imported apples from other countries so the industry is pretty much abandoned. There are other issues, too, but not being able to make a living re. pricing is the biggest obstacle.


#267

I meant to say Applenut. My apology.


#268

Apples are not uncommon in the Ugandan marketplace, but are very expensive, out of reach for most villagers. Most apple farmers in Uganda are making good money, even with their limited crop, and are able to build a better house, pay school and university feeds for their kids. Part of our intention is to give them better varieties to compete with the South African imports. Just like here in the USA, we'll be able to clobber them on taste, and we're working on competing on appearance also. If nothing else, it will allow the villagers to have apples that were formerly only available to the city folk.


#269

Its a beautiful program you have been running there Kevin. I missed the last time you came and talked to the AZRFG's, curious about the back story behind how you ended up helping poor africans to grow apples? Seems to me like a pretty awesome missionary outreach??


#270

Amadioranch, it was the finger of God.

A clerk in Ugandan parliament was looking for apple seeds, and I emailed him and told him apples have to be grafted. I sent a few to them, but they wanted a lot more. I offered to send the materials if they'd do the grafting, which they did a great job on.


The clerk I was dealing with gave the operation over to a development consultant friend of his, John Baptist Lwanga, who found land to plant them. The next season a government contract came up, and I joked that they should form a company and bid on it. John Baptist took this seriously, and I ran out of reasons not to, so we incorporated as Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery in October 2012. The bid fell through, but he felt he had enough demand to continue the company, so in February he got some land from the Buganda Kingdom and recruited workers, trained them, and did about 3,000 trees.

Sales were mediocre, and the learning curve was high, but they made it through the season and got a lot of trees planted. The next season they did a lot more, including a couple of large orchards..

2015 was a tough year, we fell victim to an email scam that robbed us of all our operating capital, preventing us from grafting all but a few hundred trees. We thought we'd have to declare bankruptcy, but John Baptist received requests from existing orchards to help prune them and bring them back into productivity which tided him through. We also had international visitors paying to come learn tropic apple culture. The large orchards we planted continued to thrive, which also encouraged us.

We're starting out the 2016 season in much better shape, and John Baptist says it will be a busy season. Africa is full of failed aid projects that have left the country dependent and destitute. They want development, not aid, and want the satisfaction of providing for themselves. None of the people involved in this venture have a background in agriculture, which I think is God's joke on the apple industry. He picked a bunch of amateurs to show that it is His doing, not ours, which brings Him the credit.

I must add that even with the bad roads, lack of refrigeration, typhoid/malaria, tsetse flies, spitting cobras, drenching rains, and thieving monkeys, it's STILL easier than doing business in California.


#271

Really amazing pictures, thanks for sharing. Are they grown in higher elevation? Cause I would never guess you can grow apples in equatorial regions.


#272

Aha, you just posted more information at the same time I was writing this. I will try to look it up :slight_smile:


#273

Apple nut
Thank you for sharing the info of the operation.

Wish you and John a lot of success in the near future.


#274

Thats a concept thats sorely lacking in the way the west views poor people. Finger of God indeed. What a amazing story! The Lord makes a way for people with faith. Bless you sir.


#275

I'll say it again, @applenut you're a rock star! Keep up the good work.


#276

Kevin, I've been waiting to hear this story. What incredible work you're doing for such a wonderful cause and grateful people. Please keep us updated on your progress!


#277

We have orchards all over Uganda, high and low elevations. Even the higher elevations receive zero chilling hours and are no different in how the apples are grown with tropic apple culture; they all require manual leaf stripping and careful training.

Without the training, the tree reverts back to the typical form for the tropics, runaway apical dominance with multiple shoots emanating from the base. This form is very unproductive and is how you would see most apple trees there (before we came).
It is a whole different story now.


#278

@applenut

Amazing accomplishment.

Absolute proof that a helping hand is always better than a handout.

Mike


#279

I should clarify when I say "we"; I've never been to Uganda (I spent 6 months in Kenya in the 1980's). John Baptist Lwanga and his team travel, eat, sleep, and work in conditions that would kill a muzungu (gringo). I'd only be a burden to them, and for now anyway any money I would have spent traveling there is better spent for the team inside Uganda.

Here's how they travel for hours and hours; notice the seats vs. people ratio

Here's lunch; cassava root, no seasoning or spices

Here's how you're expected to work; that's a typical planting hole. Don't feel sorry for the old guy, he could whoop me when it comes to digging, as could all the women.


#280

Amazing work! Teach a man to fish.... Thanks, Kevin, God Bless.