Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Wetaya Richard

Wetaya Richard

I have more than five years’ working experience in the Media industry.  
I wield a skillful pen as a Journalist, and I'm presently a Freelance features writer at the "Features Desk" of the “New Vision”- Uganda’s premier Newspaper.

Before I joined the New Vision, I had worked as a Broadcast Journalist with Signal FM radio in Mbale, Eastern Uganda. 
My weekly Hip Hop four hour show packed a punch and was very popular with the youth in Eastern Uganda.

Other interests

Writing Poetry and Rapping [ I'm the pioneer of Luma-Flow-(Lumaasaba Hip Hop Music) and I have 5 albums under my belt].

Playing basketball-Several medals and Certificates received for playing the game

Philanthropy and social activism


Phone Contact-+256756096335, Email--jayrichards3@gmail.com

Starting an exercise regime at the beginning of 2014 seemed, hard and boring, though, on several occasions, I had gotten a feel of it, while dancing to the pulsating percussion driven-Kadodi dance of Eastern Uganda. 
It happens to be my traditional dance.

I started exercising as a way of keeping fit, cutting weight and beating off disease and mood disorders like depression.

Getting into a steady stride and making it enjoyable took quite some time, however.

When I gradually got into a stride, exercise became as normal as brushing teeth and at length, I become an exercise freak.
Practice does indeed make perfect.

I have since won several medals, as a result of running, including two medals from the last two MTN Uganda- Marathons (21kms race).

The writer hitting the final stretch at the 2018 Kampala Seven Hills Marathon in Nsambya

I always have this “new lease of life” feeling after I hit the road, jogging with my friends. 

In the course of time, exercise has toned different parts of my body and muscles and to date, my childhood and High school friends, wonder how I manage to stay lean and fit, while they hit their dotage.
Nor that they are too old, anyway. Most are in their mid and late 30’s.

Before I began my exercise regime, I was a slouch with a lot of body fat around my mid section [midriff area of the body].

For the most part, even when I played basketball in High School and during school holidays, my leg and hand muscles were frail.

Having a well toned body and strong muscles means spells stronger bones, fewer injuries and healthy bone density.

I may not be as chiseled as Shaun T, the American fitness trainer and choreographer, but you can bet your bottom dollar, I will be like him, in a few years, as long as I maintain the spirit.

Ten to one, I will and if you maintain the spirit, too, chances are high; you will achieve the same results.

The writer third from left in the back row was part of the New Vision Kampala 2018 Seven Hills Marathon winning team


A doctor friend by the names of Fred Womudenyi, who is a physician in Mbale, in the East of Uganda, advised me to get a medical evaluation before I embarked on my fitness regime.

“It is the right thing to do, though few people do it. It is good to evaluate how much and how often, you will exercise, depending on your health status. People with cardiovascular [heart] problems particularly, should get approval from their physician, first before beginning an exercise regime,” Womudenyi said.

“Before beginning a fitness program, consider also basic factors like intensity {how hard you are going to work out}, frequency, the type of exercise and duration {how long you are going to work out}.
For total fitness, an exercise program should include exercises for endurance, muscular strengthen and flexibility.

“Endurance is the ability to do something difficult for a long time, while flexibility refers to the range of movements in joints and muscles.
Exercises for endurance include jogging, swimming, bicycling and aerobics.
Exercises for flexibility are mostly stretching exercises. These are necessary to improve and maintain the range of movement in muscles and joints,” Peter Kityo, fitness instructor in Kira, Wakiso district, says.

Lessons learnt

When you start an exercise program, start slow and increase gradually.
Set a timetable to do it and follow the proper phases and techniques for exercising of your choice.

“The four factors that should be considered when planning a fitness program are frequency, duration, intensity and type,” Kityo says.

Exercising as part of a group or with a friend is very rewarding in terms of morale and consistency, so give a crack.
A group approach to exercising, like the format, I and my friends have chosen, benefits everyone involved.

Besides developing relationships, group exercising offers opportunity for technique improvement and is a great way to get exposed to new kinds of exercises.


Exercising has three phases that have to be followed as a rule of thumb, according to Sports Tutor, Moses Opio.

“Conditioning, warm up and cool down exercises and stretches, before and after a run or a workout help prevent muscle pulls and muscle soreness.
Warm up exercises ready the body for a run or an aerobics session.
The warm up also prepares one’s cardiovascular system for more strenuous work,” Opio says.

“Conditioning is the process of getting ready for exercise. It helps the body to perform the strenuous aspects of working out, whilst the cool down phase, which includes stretching exercises and walking, on occasion brings the body back to a resting state. Exercising an unconditioned body puts excess stress on the muscles, bones and cardiovascular system. This can result in injuries and illness.”


Brian Madaba, a fitness instructor at Grand fitness Gym in Wakiso says it is important to steer clear of muscle overstrains at the beginning of a fitness program.
“Begin with less taxing exercises like walking or swimming.
Exercises must be done on a regular basis, say twice or thrice a week, so that muscles are conditioned. 
Stop exercising, if issues such as chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath-manifest,” Madaba says.

“Wearing comfortable clothes that do not restrict circulation like vests and sweat pants is important
Also wear proper, shock absorbing foot wear, which prevent foot fatigue and cushion the ball of the foot.
Loose and comfortable shoes like the Reebox cross fits and Addidas Energy are particularly convenient, because they have firm soles and give good arch support, when one is jogging or doing aerobics,” Opio says.

Ostensibly, it is important to drink plenty of water like before, during and after exercise.
Drink 10-12 ounces of water 2 hours before exercising, 7 ounces during the warm up, 6-7 ounces during exercise and 6-7 ounces after exercise.
Water is needed because during vigorous exercise, the body loses a lot of water through perspiration. It is also important to combine your exercise routine with a healthy diet because a healthy diet gives you a sustained source of energy for workouts.
“Eat healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables,” Dr Joseph Baluku of Mulago hospital, says.

Guard however against heavy meals before exercising.

Baluku adds: “Vigorous exercises of any kind should not be done, an hour and a half after a meal or immediately after a meal. The reason is to allow the stomach to empty out and to eschew stomach discomforts as you exercise.
Exercising an hour and a half after meal is okay.
Intense exercise slows down digestion and instead diverts energy to your muscles.”

“When exercising outdoors on a hot day, reduce the intensity and drink plenty of water, because as one exercises, especially on hot days, the body loses a lot of water, on account of perspiration.
If the day is cold, wear several layers of clothing,” Madaba says.

When jogging, it is important to pay attention to your posture.
“Just watch any expert marathon runner. They always hold their heads up and keep their backs straight, as their run.
They also try as much as possible, not to look at their feet, as they run,” Peter Sserumaga, one coach of Makindye soccer academy, says.
“As you jog, bend your elbows and hold your arms away from the body.
The foot lands on the heel, not on the ball of the foot. If you become tired, slow down and walk. Then begin again.”
If you want to start jogging, running tracks, grass fields and parks are good places to go to.
“It is however important to try out different routes to make your running more interesting.
Avoid running on hard surfaces,” Madaba says.

“Running on hard surfaces increases one’s risk of developing Achilles tendon issues, which usually result from micro tears that occur in the tendon during strenuous, high impact exercise, such as running,” Opio says.


“Whereas exercises for flexibility, balance and muscular strength are vitally important, exercises meant for endurance [the ability to do something like running for a long time]and that increase the body’s uptake of oxygen, principally aerobics are the most beneficial for overall health,” Madaba says.
Aerobic fitness exercises such as jogging, swimming, bicycling, rope skipping and aerobic dancing should be incorporated regularly into any kind of exercise program.
Aerobic exercises, enhance cardiovascular fitness, reduce cholesterol levels and improve muscle tone.

Ugandan Tour operators have asked the Ugandan government not to approve an application for a license by a South African energy firm, Bonang power and Energy (Pty) Limited, to construct a hydro power dam along the famed River Nile in the Murchison falls national park area.

Located 305 kilometers north of Uganda's capital- Kampala, the Murchison falls National Park has one of the most spectacular views of the Nile cascading over 23kms breathtaking rapids.

On June 5th, the Ugandan government through the Electricity regulatory Authority (ERA) placed an advert in several local dailies, acknowledging receipt of a notice of intended application for a license from Bonang power and energy limited to construct a dam near the falls.

However addressing journalists in Kampala, recently, the tour operators, under their body the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) implored the government not to approve the construction of the dam, saying it would erode the Murchison falls and affect tourism.

“There should be no approbation for this project. Thinking about construction of the dam at the falls alone,  is bad enough, even when the government says it has not yet approved the planned project,” Everest Kayondo, the chairman  Association of Uganda Tour Operators said.

According to the Ugandan government, Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited  intends to undertake detailed  feasibility studies and other activities leading to the development of the power project  whose proposed installed capacity  is 360MW.

In the notice, the Electricity regulatory Authority stated that the generated power will be sold to the Uganda Electricity Transmission company limited and fed into the national grid.

The proposed project, is located within the vicinity of coordinates 216’42.6”N (longitude) and 31O41’08.8”E (Latitude) which is said to be the exact area where the Murchison waterfalls are situated.

The project is planned to be established near Murchison falls in Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts.

Julius Wandera, the communications manager of the Electricity regulatory Authority confirmed to Masaabachronicle that the government had not yet approved the project, saying only a notice for feasibility had been issued.

The Tour operators however want the government to drop the project, noting that it is a bad idea for the tourism sector.

“The Murchison falls, combines three tourism aspects that is wildlife, hiking and the water falls so we cannot afford to lose them. We have already lost Bujagali and Owen falls in the center of Uganda,” Kayondo noted.

One of the largest tourist attractions in Uganda, Murchison Falls, also referred to as the Kabalega Falls, is a waterfall found on the course of the great Nile.

It breaks the stunning Victoria Nile that flows across Uganda’s northern region from the vast Lake Victoria to the deep Lake Kyoga and continuing to the northern tip of Lake Albert within the western arm of the great East African Rift.

To save the natural beauty, the operators penned a letter (s) to President Yoweri Museveni among other stakeholders, including-the Ministry of Tourism, the Electricity regulatory Authority, the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament-Rebecca Kadaga and Ruhakana Ruganda-Uganda’s Prime minister asking them to say NO to the proposed project.

“It is shocking that a heritage site like Murchison falls can be considered for power generation. We should look at solar energy and not hydropower at the expense of natural beauty,” Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the President Uganda Tourism Association said.

She said her association, had also petitioned the South African Embassy in Uganda, to engage Bonang power and Energy (Pty) Limited, about the proposed project.

According to Kakooza, Murchison falls, is the only unique tourist attraction Uganda has, compared to other countries.

Just like the tour operators, Uganda wild life Authority (UWA), also opposed the move to construct a power dam near the falls, and asked the government to find an alternative site.

Bashir Haggi, the communications manager Uganda Wildlife Authority, said Murchison falls, attracts the highest number of tourists to Uganda, compared to other tourist attractions.

“Last year alone, the falls attracted 96,438 tourists, compared to 80,000 tourists that visited Queen Elizabeth national park. The falls are the icon of Murchison falls national park, we call it so because the falls are a must see feature,” he said.


The tourists want the government to pronounce itself on the proposed project, within a space of two weeks, lest they take action.

Robert Kasande, the Permanent secretary in Uganda’s ministry of energy and mineral development, however appealed to the tourist operators among other stakeholders to allow the government finish the review process, which he said will consider views from all stakeholders.

“The feasibility study has not been undertaken; it is this study that will look at the environment and commercial aspects. The people making fuss over this are jumping the gun,” Kasande said.

He said the government had not yet decided on the exact site where a dam would be constructed, adding that there are plans for construction of more dams such as the 600MW Ayago dam, along the same river.

The tourists indicated that destroying Murchison falls, will not only affect the local communities but also the tourism sector which contributes 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the national economy.

The sector, also contributes 24% of the exchange inflows in the country, making it the biggest single foreign exchange earner to the country. 

The application for a license by the South African energy firm to construct a hydro power dam along River Nile has drawn forth, a lot of heated blowback from a cross section of Ugandans.

A few years ago, Ibrahim Mabuye, a smallholder banana farmer in Rwencherwa village, Birere sub-county, in the western Uganda district of Isingiro, struggled with small-sized banana bunches in his two-acre plantation.

While he knew how to clean suckers by paring before planting, he had minimal knowledge of other effective banana agronomic practices.

Though he had heard of water and soil conversation practices such as mulching, digging trenches, manure application, etc and plantation management practices such as de-suckering and de-leafing, he hardly practiced them. As a consequence, most of the banana bunches, he harvested from his garden were undersized, low in quality and sold for a low price.


“Each bunch went for Ugandan shillings 4,000 [$1.08], yet sturdy bananas in Isingiro were selling at Ugandan shillings 10,000 [$2.70],” Mabuye reveals. 

Eventually, Mabuye’s banana farming prospects improved and that was in the aftermath of him attending training on improving scalable banana agronomy, conducted by Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation [NARO] in 2018.

The agronomy training was carried out under the auspices of the four year Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Funded “Improving scalable banana-growing for small scale farmers in highland banana cropping systems in East Africa project.

The BMFG project, which began in 2016 in Uganda and Tanzania will run up to 2020 and is being implemented by the National Agricultural Research Organisation, Makerere University, CABI International, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Tanzania Agricultural Research Institutes [Tengeru and Maruku] and Bioversity International.

The training which is still ongoing in the Ugandan districts of Bunyangabu, Nakaseke, and Isingiro and the Tanzania districts of Rombo and Bukoba is aimed at bringing farmers, up to speed with the latest banana agronomy practices for the proper management of their plantations.

What the training involved

The training involved sessions taking farmers through field preparation and demarcation techniques –such as how to prepare the land for banana planting [clearing bushes or debris] and how to rid the land of perennial weeds and dead roots before planting.

Farmers were also trained in how to dig holes [with spacing of 3m between planting rows and 3 m within the row, 3*3m or wider, depending on soil fertility.

Later, they were trained in water and soil conversation practices such as mulch and inorganic and organic manure application.

On farms and plantations in the three districts, farmers were shown how to apply layers of mulch [spreading to depths of 2cm over a hectare] regularly with organic materials such as leaves, elephant grass, pseudostems, etc in their fields to minimize water runoff, to restrict weed growth, protect against intense sunshine, prevent erosion, improve soil drainage, stimulate root development and preserve nutrients such as potassium.

Farmers were also trained on how to dig 30-45cm deep trenches in the plantations as a means of trapping water and controlling soil erosion.

They were also taught plant management practices such as de-suckering [removal of suckers to reduce on the competition for water, light and to maximize yields], de-leafing [removal of dead hanging leaves to prevent creating shelters for weevils] and proper harvest techniques.

Dr. Jerome Kubiribira, head of the National Banana Research Programme at the National Agricultural Research Organization and also team leader for the project says before the farmer training commenced, most farmers in the select districts where the project is being implemented were producing bananas way below the national average of 10 tonnes per hectare per year.
Dr Jerome Kubiribira

“When the agronomy project started, most farmers were producing between 5-8 tonnes per hectare,” Kubiribira says.

Mabuye was one of many farmers who were producing below the national average, before the training. His fortunes, took a turn for the better after he employed the agronomy technologies taught, by NARO, such as proper field demarcation, mulching, trenching and manure application.

The water and soil conservation practices, Mabuye and farmers like Jolly Tusabe of Rwimi sub-county in Bunyangabu district, were taught, such as mulching, manuring, digging trenches and removing diseased plants came in handy in improving their plantations. Tusabe practices phased mulching.

Jolly Tusabe

“After a while, my banana plants grew and matured sturdily, though, initially, I faced challenges in getting mulching materials,” Mabuye says.

“Previously, I harvested 10 ten bunches per fortnight. I now harvest 40 banana bunches every fortnight and 75 in a month. I sell each bunch at sh8, 000, [$2.16], meaning, I make monthly profits to the tune of Uganda shillings 600, 000 [$162.43].”

With improved profits has come improved sustenance for Mabuye’s family and expansion of his farm.
Mabuye is now able to provide better meals, clothing, shelter, water, and education to his five sprightly children.

In his village of Rwencherwa, other farmers, who were not part of the training, have been accosting Mabuye to pick his mind on how they can also improve their banana farming prospects like he did.
Thus far, he has trained five farmers in his village and he regularly does follow up visits to see how they are fairing.
Two of the farmers, Mabuye has trained have shared the knowledge of what they learned with six other farmers from neighboring villages.

John Mutaawe, 30, a smallholder banana farmer in Bulwadda village, Nakaseke sub-county in Nakaseke district in central Uganda, faced a dilemma akin to Mabuye’s, before the NARO banana agronomy training.

John Mutaawe

Mutaawe says the knowledge he acquired after the training such as digging trenches, de-trashing, de-suckering (removal of suckers to reduce on the competition for water, light, and nutrients) de-leafing (removing dead hanging leaves covering young suckers) and mulching positively impacted on his banana farm.

Mutaawe who has been a banana farmer for the last three years, has seen his banana productivity, go up a notch, as a result of putting into execution, the technologies, he was taught.

“It was a different situation before the training. My one-acre banana plantation was in a bad state because I did not know how to take care of it. My harvests were invariably few and far between because I planted the suckers, too close to each other; meaning there was a reduction in nutrients for the plantation. At times, I also planted suckers without cleaning them through paring, which made them vulnerable to disease,” Mutaawe discloses.

At present, Mutaawe harvests up to twenty big size bananas, every fortnight and for good measure, his monthly profits have shot up to Uganda shillings 400,000 [$108.10] from 280,000.

Daniel Kimeze, the project’s site coordinator in Nakaseke, says over 800 farmers have thus far been trained in how to execute the agronomy technologies.

“The aim is to reach and impact, a minimum of 4000 farmers in Nakaseke. Many farmers have been able to increase their banana yields, food security and livelihoods as a result of the knowledge they acquired. There was a time; all bananas that were consumed in Nakaseke were coming from Western Uganda. That status quo has now changed as farmers like Mutaawe have increased on their productivity,” Kimeze says.

“Nakaseke as well had a food security problem. That, for the most part, has been dealt with now with more agro produce, principally bananas being produced. Many farmers are now able to provide better for their families.”

Ann Tibamwendera, a banana farmer in Kasana village, Birere sub-county-Isingiro district also attributes her current good banana farming fortunes on her eight-acre banana plantation to the agronomy technologies, she was taught.

Ann Tebamwendera

“Before I used to harvest, fewer bunches. That was because I was not employing good agronomic practices like mulching and pruning. Before the training, I harvested between 50-60 bunches, but after employing what I was taught, my yields significantly improved and I’m now able to harvest bigger bunches. In a peak season, I now harvest up to 150-200 bunches fortnightly,” Tibamwendera says.

IMG 9500

Yuda Mayinja, a buoyant 81-year-old banana farmer and resident of Kasagga village, Nakaseke sub-county, Nakaseke district has also seen his banana farming fortunes improve significantly after he employed the agronomy technologies, he was taught by NARO.


“I was mostly a subsistence banana farmer before the training. My productivity was low and I was in the dark about how to enforce better banana growth. I had never really thought of selling bananas as a source of income but that all changed after I employed the technologies I was taught like mulching, de-trashing, and manuring. I was able to harvest more bunches of bananas. Previously I harvested only 6 bunches in a week and most were small sized. Now I harvest up to 15 sturdy bunches, every week and the biggest bunches go for Uganda shillings 20,000 [$5.40],” Mayinja says.

“Most of my children are now married, but profits from my bananas have helped me improve my house and standard of living. I'm using some of the other proceeds to start a coffee growing business.”

Other farmers like Rose Najuli of Kalagala village in Nakaseke, Alice Namanya and Lilian Muhwezi of Birere sub-county in Isingiro, all speak of the agronomy project in high terms, on account of their improved farming prospects and profits.

Moses Arinda, the project site coordinator for Birere sub-county, Isingiro district, says the banana agronomy project intervention has, in many respects, been a game-changer.


“On average, banana farmers in Isingiro now produce more bananas for the market than before. Over 3000 farmers in Isingiro have so far been trained under this project,” Arinda says.

Dr. Kubiribira says before the project interventions, set forth, only nine tonnes of bananas were produced in Isingiro district, per hectare, per year.

“As I speak now, the figure is at 16.5 tonnes. In Rwimi sub-county in Bunyangabu district, only 9 tonnes were produced.  Now they produce over 19 tonnes. That is double what they produced before the trainings were carried out. It is only in Nakaseke, where productivity is still low,” Kubiribira says.

Dr. Enoch Kikulwe, an agricultural economist, under the Development Impact Unit of Bioversity International, says the agronomy project has registered a lot of positive impact since it took root.

Dr Enock

“Many farmers in the areas where the trainings were carried out are now able to harvest more banana bunches, denoting improved profits and better livelihoods. That increase in productivity is majorly attributable to the agronomy technologies, which were taught,” Kikulwe says.


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