A few years ago when Dr Tonny Kidega ventured into livestock farming, his ambition was to reap big from selling raw milk
A few years ago when Dr Tonny Kidega ventured into livestock farming, his ambition was to reap big from selling raw milk.
The 37-year-old dairy veterinarian would later start a farm – Gulu country dairy farm on a 35 acres piece of land in Unyama Sub-county, Gulu District, to fulfill his plans. This was in 2013, two years after his contract with Heifer International ended.
“I used to work with Heifer International as a dairy veterinary officer, I was working with small holder farmers who were given dairy cows to solve their nutrition needs and was in charge of about 300 farmers, but after funding to the organisation ended, I had to think of an alternative,” says Dr Kidega.
His ambition would propel him to what he loved – improving the dairy industry in northern Uganda.
In 2013, Dr Kidega started with 13 cross breeds of cattle he bought from Western Uganda with funding from a colleague.
“The milk demand was too high, when we had just started the farm, the supply overwhelmed us, people used to line up at our farm and the distribution points were just too much compared to our supply,” Kidega said.
Daily, Gulu country dairy farm used to produce about 250 liters of milk, translating to a daily earning of Shs425,000.
Monthly, Dr Kidega says he would get Shs12 million and an annual income of about Shs150 million from selling raw milk within Gulu Municipality and rural areas.
However after analysing, the cost of production, market trends and the profits he was getting through selling raw milk, Dr Kidega sought better options– adding value to his milk.
He then thought of producing yogurt and his aim was to create a market within the rural areas where to sell the products.
“We were under pressure to produce milk because you have to sell whatever amount of milk you have very fast, we never had the time to think about going beyond what we were doing,” explains Dr Kidega.
In September this year, Dr Kidega from his savings bought a mini dairy processing plant at Shs200 million from Tessa, a manufacturing plant in Israel to kick start production.
The processing plant installed at his farm in Gulu district is equipped with a pasteurizer, packaging components, harmonizer, a storage tank, cold room and storage room. “I carefully weighed in on the business I was undertaking with selling only raw milk, I thought of increasing the revenue base and one way to do such was through adding value to milk produced at the farm,” he says.
In their first week of production, Dr Kidega said they produced 2,000 yogurt packaged in 150 ml pouches but ended up distributing them for free since they were new in the market and no one was willing to buy their product.