What you need to know:
Dr Leonard Kawule. A day with the veterinary doctor will leave you marvelled at how passionate he is about animals, especially when he is teaching an innovative method of pig farming that he invented with his colleague.
When I meet Dr Leonard Kawule, I am taken aback. In my estimation, he is in his mid-20s- way too young for me to refer to him as Ssebo (a vernacular respectful term for sir) over the phone. Probably, I should simply have referred to him as “doctor”. However, he sounded so poised on phone that ssebo seem the most befitting title. By the time we parted later that evening, I was greatly honoured to have met and spent a day with him; that feeling you get when you have encountered an inspiring person.
An interesting innovation
I had visited Dr Kawule to talk about a pig farming method he and his colleagues have done practical research on at their private farm, Nyenje Agricultural Innovations Centre in Mukono District. After getting successfully convinced about the many benefits of this method, these vets wrote a manual and are teaching piggery owners about this improved method that will guarantee less disease incidences, reduced cost of labour invested in the daily cleaning of a piggery, lean quality pork and above all, a less smelly piggery.
I am a little skeptical about his convictions. Dr Kawule, however, is bent on going to great lengths to demonstrate that what he is saying is viable; that the labour- intensive pig rearing method is probably the best thing that has happened to Ugandans in recent times.
In his words; “This method is going to get the urban poor out of poverty because you can look after a large number of pigs on a very small piece of land.”
The first piggery we visit is Major Ruranga Rubaramira’s in Seeta. He warns me politely to concentrate on this system of farming instead of politicising the story.
“In our profession, we attend to all people regardless of their political affiliation,” he explains as we get out of his car.
Zeal drives his trade
He picks a rake and climbs into the pen to practically demonstrate while explaining. This enthusiasm becomes standard procedure for every other piggery that we visit. He does not tire of going back in and out whenever he feels need to do so again. His energy is surprising.
He strokes the pigs and they lie back and close their eyes obviously satisfied while he says; a farmer who cannot even touch his animals should not get involved. “You see these animals can decide to become hostile and aggressive, but you can keep them friendly by giving them some care.”
One of the things he continually does to demonstrate that this kind of method does not need for the pen to get cleaned out each day is picking out the dung and urging me to touch it.
At first, I am cautious, but I hesitantly crash the dung between my fingers. It turns to powder without leaving any smell and he explains further that the coffee husks used in this method will heat up and burn the dung.
The love and zeal with which this youthful vet goes about his work is simply captivating. Having met at about 10 am and visited two piggeries, we are driving from Seeta to what I thought would be the last site somewhere along Kayunga Road with another vet colleague-James Nabimanya, with whom we are doing the farm visits.
A few secrets to the trade
At the Kayunga-road piggery, the worker there asks for “something” from doctor which I find weird because ordinarily, it is the doctor who gets paid for making the routine visit. Dr Kawule gives him “something” and later explains: “When you make him happy, then he will load airtime and call you immediately when there is a problem. Instead of him waiting for his boss to come back from his work station over the weekend or waiting until the boss calls before he can inform him, and then the boss informs you and then you come when it is too late. For example, if a pig is on heat, I will immediately come and inseminate it.”
Clearly, this is more than a job to Dr Kawule. He cares about the pigs, their owners and the casual labourers who work in these piggeries. I would have grabbed a bite while we were leaving this farm, but I imagine that we are driving back to Seeta and probably using a short-cut through the murram roads in Mukono town. I was wrong; Dr Kawule was not done yet. He still wanted me more than convinced about this method of pig rearing, so we end up at another farm owned by him and other vets at a place called Nyenje.
The trials for the viability of this method started here at Nyenje. Dr Kawule’s practical demonstration in the pens takes over again. It is about 5 pm and we are about to finish when two men arrive. One is a friend of the doctor who has brought his friend to the farm to learn about the labour-intensive method of pig rearing, having found him pushing a wheel barrow of foul smelling dung. Dr Kawule is back in the pens explaining everything from start to this farmer. His zeal is unbelievable.
Somewhere in the day, Dr Nabimanya had offhandedly told me that they can take a day without food. I start wishing I had not thought it a joke. Well, I get a ride with the visitors at about 5 pm leaving Dr Kawule at the farm happily checking on this and that. I have my lunch at about 6 pm wondering what time Dr Kawule will have his. But well, it is a day well-spent. Dr Kawule was born 31 years ago to Henry Kiryose and Loy Izimba. He holds a degree in veterinary medicine from Makerere University and is in the final stages of completing his master’s degree whose research is about artificial insemination in pigs. He is married and has one child.