Eden Kamugisha of Kisagazi Village in Mukungwe Sub-county, Masaka District is a man of great farming ideas.
But what actually makes him a unique farmer is his remarkable capacity to put ideas into practice and to exploit them to his advantage.
He has several farming enterprises interestingly related to one another. He is more known by his nickname, Kituufu (genuine), which is also the name of his chicken feeds business located in Masaka Town.
He does not just sell chicken feeds but he also owns a poultry farm with more than 30,000 layers.
About four years ago Kamugisha discovered the big link between poultry keeping and fish farming, especially because his poultry farm is located close to Namajjuzi Swamp.
So he dug up two fish ponds, each one larger than an acre, into which he put some 17,000 tilapia fingerings in each. “Fish eat chicken droppings,” he told Seeds of Gold. “I therefore put 100 gunny bags of poultry droppings into each pond every three months and I am overwhelmed by the harvests. I do not spend a penny on any other feeds, that’s all,” says Kamugisha.
Normally, if tilapia fish are well fed, harvesting may be done after nine months but Kamugisha believes that it is better to do so after one year.
“Ugandans prefer to buy large fish and so I wait a little longer,” he said.
He harvests about 10 tonnes of fish from each pond and, much as he is not ready to disclose exactly how much money he gets from the sale of the fish, it easy to tell that he is a very satisfied fish farmer.
He has discovered that tilapia fish reproduce quite fast and to ‘control population’ he recently introduced the Nile perch fish into the ponds.
“The chicken droppings are the food the fish need besides the flying insects from the air and since the ponds are large and wind keeps blowing over them they get sufficient oxygen to breathe,” he says.
His ponds do not have the common in-flow and out-flow pipes that most other fish ponds are required to have to provide sufficient oxygen to the fish. His advice to poultry farmers is that they should relate one farming enterprise to another and it is an idea that one should not just ignore.
Kamugisha, who sells about 30,000 eggs per day, and certainly earns good profits from them, has linked his poultry enterprise to trading in poultry feeds to further expand his income. The same poultry business then feeds his fish which feed on chicken droppings.
Coffee and other fruits
The poultry farm also provides the manure for his Robusta coffee plantation of some four acres.
“I earned only about Shs9m from coffee last season but I think a coffee farmer should also engage in livestock farming, perhaps an activity
like poultry keeping since it pays more and does not take up as much space as coffee,” he says.
But it is not hard to understand how he took up coffee growing. He owns several crop nurseries on the farm and he is a producer of a variety of crop plantlets including Robusta coffee, grafted mangoes, grafted avocado, cloned eucalyptus, and grafted oranges for sale to Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme and interested farmers in the neighbourhood.
Kamugisha, who employs about 20 people, is not the kind of farmer to make plantlets and fail to take advantage of them by planting some of them for his own benefit.
In a single rainy season he may earn between Shs50m and Shs60m just from the sale of plantlets, but his coffee plantation is intercropped with mango trees, oranges and avocado.
He sells the fruits
“You may not see much matooke banana growing on my farm,” says Kamugisha, who is a Makerere graduate of Political Science and a former prisons officer.
“They are cheap and not so well paying. I, therefore, prefer to grow a different breed of bananas from which I make wine and earn more money,” he reveals. He buys matooke and some other food items for his family’s consumption and he says it is an expenditure he never worries about.
“Just from the daily local sale of damaged eggs here at the farm gate I earn enough to take care of such expenses,” he says.
“And even if we ate a chicken every day we would not really feel the pinch.”
He is passionate about growing cloned eucalyptus trees from South Africa.
He operates a nursery for the eucalyptus breed and he prepares thousands of cloned plantlets for sale at Shs700 each.
So far he has planted 35 acres of cloned South African eucalyptus trees.
“My plan is actually to go into large scale tree farming,” he told Seeds of Gold.
“About 15 acres of my land is under pine trees. I will not destroy the forest because pine is also fine, but I want to expand my eucalyptus project to at least one hundred acres,” he said.
Trees better than real estate
Eden Kamugisha has an interesting argument in support of tree farming as opposed to real estate investment. “To build two moderate apartments for rent today would cost Shs100m,” he says.
“Yet monthly rent collection per unit would be half a million. It would take the owner eight years to get Shs96m from such an investment. Yet if a tree farmer invested Shs100m in growing cloned eucalyptus trees on about 25 acres he would earn Shs400m in eight years,” Kamugisha reveals.
He quit government service as a Prison officer 30 years ago due to poor health. “My health improved immediately I became a farmer,” he said. “I have not earned a salary all those years but I am fine,” he adds.
On top of Ndegeya hill where some of his eucalyptus trees are growing he has realised the beauty of the landscape on all the sides of the hill and the cool wind blowing over the trees.
He is now constructing storeyed cottages as part of his dream hotel where he expects to begin hosting holiday makers and tourists in the next year or so.