The church pastor who wanted to be a doctor but now rears chicken
Posted Wednesday, March 5 2014 at 02:00
Though he is from a farming background, he was set on becoming a medical doctor. Along the way he became a church leader and then a farmer. Peterson Ssozi told Gloria Haguma his story.
My name is Peterson Ssozi, a church pastor and proprietor of Nissi Mixed Farm. My engagement in farming began a few years ago, after I travelled to the US as an evangelist.
The idea came when I had given a speech at a church gathering. One person from the congregation walked up to me and asked where I was from.
When I told him I was from Uganda, he seemed very shocked that I was in US seeking for assistance for church programmes. He believed Uganda has very fertile land that made it easy for any crop to grow on it.
At the time I had no exposure to or experience in agriculture whatsoever. The only digging I had done was the light punishments that we were usually given while in school. I wanted to become a medical doctor, and had never thought of becoming a farmer.
My father was a subsistence farmer, and from what I saw, he was always struggling. So for me, farming was not something I thought I could earning a living from. And here I was in a foreign land begging for funds and this came as a great challenge from the American.
The words of this man had a great impact on me; so I decided to try my hand at farming. When I came back to Uganda, I started to look for land to start framing. I got the land, in Mityana, which was about 350 acres. On this land, I tried to do some cultivation.
I planted bananas, coffee, cocoa, and many other crops. On this same farm, I also kept some cows and goats. However, I failed to yield much from these enterprises, and I was yet to feel content.
But three years ago, during one of our monthly family meetings, my brother told us about this chicken breed that he said was very amazing and also a good one. But because of my past experiences with farming, I resisted giving in to his pleas for me to invest in poultry, because I did not want to go through the losses I had suffered before.
I had previously tried my hand at chicken farming, but unfortunately all the birds died from Newcastle disease. This is because they had not been vaccinated.
However, when I finally gave in to my brother’s pleas, I was surprised and also impressed by what I found on his farm. I saw this big chicken that I later got to learn is called the Kuroiler chicken. When I was told of several of its advantages, I gave in, and that is how I got into the business of rearing this chicken breed.
Started with 300 birds
I started with 300 birds, with 150 of them being cocks. I bought each of them at Shs7,000 which came up to Shs2.1m in total.
I got these from a farm owned by someone called Spear Kabuye, which is in Kyebando [in Kampala].
He was the one of the first people who brought this breed of chicken to Uganda from India. However, because I was just starting out, I failed to manage them well and lost half of the birds. We failed to immunise them on time, and they were struck by Newcastle disease.
I remained with 150 birds. These have given me all the other birds that I have here today, through reproducing. Currently, we have over 10,000 birds on the farm. We recently exported one-month-old chicks to Accra, in Ghana. Each one-month-old chick goes for Shs3,000.
The beauty about this breed is that it is a three-in-one. The cock that is between three to four months can weigh two to four kilogrammes and is sold between Shs20,000 and Shs40,000.
Making own feeds
I noticed that the poultry industry in Uganda was suffering because of the adulterated feeds. You go and buy feed like mukene (silver fish) somewhere, and they sell you with sand mixed in there.
So, I decided to also invest into producing chicken feed. We ensure that our feeds that are processed here are up to standard. The feed that we make includes chick, starter, growers’, and layers mash.