Timothy Kisaakye, 34, is considering relocating from Kampala to his home village of Kasanje on the outskirts of Masaka Town to become a full-time farmer.
“I do not think I will get a job in Kampala that can pay me the amount of money that I see coming from this poultry farm,” he told Seeds of Gold in an interview held right at his farm recently. He holds a Bachelors degree in accountancy and a Masters in banking and investment and he has what many people would consider a well-paid job in Kampala mainly doing consultancy work, but right now his mind is apparently drawn to his birthplace where he wants to spend the rest of his life farming.
His parents had tried poultry keeping before and it is easy to notice that some of the poultry houses on the farm were put up long before 2012 when he put new vigour in the family farming project by his personal involvement.
Firmly grounded in his consultancy work in Kampala back then, poultry farming came along as a side hustle that he started by taking a loan of Shs25m from Dfcu Bank.
“I had a business plan, I was prepared to work hard, and, as it turned out, luck seemed to be on my side.”
The poultry business that he started with 1,000 layers has now been expanded to more than 50,000 birds and it is still growing since he is constructing even bigger poultry houses. “Now our village has been connected to National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), which has made it easier for livestock farmers like myself to do our work. Moreover, I am also currently working on rainwater harvesting and drilling underground water because water is so necessary in this business.”
He is grateful to his friend Aden Kamugisha Kituufu of Kisagazi Village near Masaka Town, a fellow poultry farmer, who encouraged him to try poultry farming. “Kamugisha has visited me a number of times and he has provided me with a lot of helpful advice,” he told Seeds of Gold.
However, it is not difficult to notice his personal passion for the job and the determination to work hard. He does not believe in government hand-outs to farmers and to strengthen his source of funding, he has created a good relationship with Micro-finance Support Centre, which has so far granted him two loans.
“I easily paid my first loan of Shs120m from the financial institution within two years and I am now servicing another loan of Shs150m,” he disclosed.
The magic wand
He said big numbers of layers increase revenue and he encourages farmers to aim at high productivity by keeping big numbers of birds.
“Big numbers of eggs give the farmer the power to negotiate fair prices and they draw customers to the farm instead of the farmer going out to look for buyers of his product.”
Another trick to attract constant income is for the farmer to ensure that every six months he has new birds brooding and others off-laying. It takes about six months for chickens to mature and to begin laying eggs and they are expected to continue laying for more than 13 months.
With regard to the general worry about fluctuating prices for eggs he says like in other types of businesses so much depends on the principle of supply and demand. He says a lot depends on the cost and quality of inputs such as feeds.
His plan is to diversify his farm activities by growing maize and vegetables every rain season.
He hopes to take advantage of chicken droppings from his farm as manure to boost crop production. By stocking maize grown on the farm or bought cheaply during times of plenty he expects to have sufficient feeds for his birds through the lean periods. He also said the cost of feeds can be subsidised by sale of unused poultry manure through constant farm inspection, Kisaakye is now very familiar with a number of chicken health issues.
This is evidenced by the way different veterinary medical terms reel off his tongue as he conducts the vet doctor around his farm during routine inspection.
He regularly drives between Kampala and Kasanje, where the poultry farm is located.
His advice is that it is good for the farmer to make sure there are sufficient funds in the bank in order to settle unexpected, emergency, expenditures that may crop up from time to time.
“The farmer should also be sure of the type of breed his hens are. My chickens are imported from either the Netherlands or Belgium where I am sure the best hatching standards were properly followed and all precautions were taken to rule out infections. My observation is that exotic birds easily adjust to our local tropical conditions. He is however dissatisfied with the quality of vet drugs most of which are not as effective as they ought to be. He also complained about the high cost of concentrates.”