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.
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.