Tuesday January 21 2014

Bitature ‘milks’ cash from high- breed animals

Patrick Bitature tends to cattle on his farm at his

Patrick Bitature tends to cattle on his farm at his Simba farm in Ibanda in Western Uganda. In a day, he collects about 750 litres from his farm. Photo by Stephen Wandera 

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

With more than 300 high-breed cows—Holstein Friesians, Frisians and Ayrshires, Bitature, an astute businessman is trying out a terrain (commercial farming), whose rules demand steady investment, patience and sacrifice before eventually reaping the profits.

Given his two or so decades of experience in business and entrepreneurship, he is aware that the returns for such an investment are long term.

Bitature is prepared to wait for the returns as evidenced by his passion and the manner in which he is steadily expanding and modernising his dairy farm.
“I am into this [dairy farming] for commercial reasons and more importantly, to help others do it better because this is more of a model farm that will help my neighbourhood to not only become better dairy farmers but also make more money for themselves,” Mr Bitature said last week during a tour at his Simba farm in Ibanda, Western Uganda.

Despite the fall in milk prices, Mr Bitature has continued providing the best fodder to the animals (cows and bulls) which he mostly grows himself.
From half of the breeds he owns, each produces between 25 to 30 litres of milk daily, although efforts are underway to raise not only the general production but yields per cow as well.

Should production consistently hit the 1,000 litre mark per day or stabilise at 1,500 litres daily, Mr Bitature said he will consider investing in a mini-processing facility in about two or three years’ time.
At the moment, the average he collects from 50 per cent of the animals is about 700 litres.

His earnings from milk

From milk alone, which he sells in its raw form, he earns not less than Shs15million in profit yet his target is to triple that amount before venturing into value addition.

According to industry observers, this is tenable, although Mr Bitature would need to go around the unstable milk prices which, in a year, could dwindle about three or more times.

He also sells high-breed bulls at Shs5million each. But to his rural folks, he sells it at a lesser price, (even half the price), saying he can accept payment in installments—an offer that is reserved for the locals in his neighbourhood.

He has about 60 of such bulls in his farm and almost every week there is a demand for them including from people as far as Rwanda and other neighbouring countries.

Production prospects

To speed up his intention of establishing a mini-milk processing plant, Mr Bitature said he would want to see a litre of milk sold at least Shs1,000.
Currently, a litre fetches a paltry Shs450, thanks to what industry analysts attribute to the dry season.

He employs about 200 people on his three farms and during harvesting time the number goes even much higher.

Principally, Mr Bitature is not a typical commercial farmer, although it now appears as if it is another line of business that he is looking to not only cash in but also, collectively use to enhance his livelihood and that income of his rural folks.

His businesses

Bitature started his business empire with a single company, Simba Telecom, then a retail chain dealership, in MTN air-time. It is from there that he expanded into other sectors including broadcasting, electronics, and the services industry, among others and now commercial farming. some of his businesses include; Simba Farms, Simba Telecom Uganda, Simba Telecom Kenya – Kenya, Simba Telecom Tanzania, Simba Telecom Nigeria – Nigeria, Simba Electronics Limited and Protea Hotel-Uganda among others.

The stumbling blocks for Bitature

Some of the biggest challenges he faces include the expenditure on over heads costs, dwindling milk prices, huge wage bill labour, especially for his senior staffers, and the amount of money he uses in treatment and making his animals (cows and bulls) keep healthy.

What others pay about Bitature
According to the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU), the private sector apex body, Mr Bitature’s contribution in terms of employment and revenue to the government is among the unrivalled ones in the country.

At the PSFU, he is considered as one of the very few renowned businessmen and entrepreneurs who can play in the league of the celebrated industrialists such as the late James Mulwana.

“We believe he can follow in the footstep of the Late James Mulwana,” the executive director of PSFU, said in an interview last week.

He continued: “We have already seen Mr Bitature inspiring and mentoring the youths and women. He believes in associations and institution, things that the late Mulwana cherished. And with that, we are looking up to him.”

THE NUMBERS
Shs15 million
Average amount of money Bitature collects from his dairy project every month
200
Average number of people Bitature employs
60
Number of bulls on Bitature’s farm
300
Average number of high-breed cows

Lessons

One lesson to pick from Mr Bitature is that one does not have to “have it all” to start off. He said: “I started about six years ago with about 10 high-breeds. And I am slowly but steadily progressing.”

Although his motive for the farm is ultimately commercial, he insists that the farm will also serve as a model farm for others to learn from, describing the gesture as a social responsibility undertaking.

Tips on juggling multiple businesses

When you run a small business or startup, everything and everyone demands your attention. Constant distractions are part of the job, but they interrupt your focus.

By learning how to multitask effectively amid all those distractions, you can stay on top of your work and increase your productivity.
“The human brain doesn’t really multit-ask,” says Art Markman, cognitive psychologist and author of Smart Thinking (Perigee, 2012). “What the human brain does is time-sharing.”

Time-sharing works like this: Your brain can only actively think about one task at a time, so you focus on one task, then another takes its place, just like vacationers occupying a timeshare property.
The shift is so fast you don’t even notice that you’re only doing one thing at once.

1. Work on related tasks together
When you work on a task, your brain activates all the circuits and neurons related to that task. When you switch to a new task, your brain has to adjust.
The shift happens quickly, but it takes a toll on your productivity. If you need to multi-task, then minimise the switching cost by bundling related tasks together. The more similar they are, the easier it will be for you to move fluidly between them.

2. Keep your to-do list visible
To stay on top of your work, remind yourself what really needs to get done. Post your to do list in a prominent spot and rank it by priority. Colour code or bold the most important tasks and make sure you set aside enough time to address them.

3. Use downtime to review new information
One of the dangers of multitasking is that it gets in the way of your memory.
When you try to recall what you learned during a client meeting or brainstorm, you’re more likely to draw a blank. If you have to skim an important document during a busy workday, take time to review it later that day.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

iladu@ug.nationmedia.com

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