Alumni Stories from our Alumni: I set up my farm to inspire others
Dr Apollo Kasharu, a university don in agribusiness, does not want to preach what he cannot practice so he has decided to do it practically. He is also a FORUM/RUFORUM alumni. He shared his story with Otushabire Tibyangye.
I decided to practice agriculture to inspire people and improve livelihoods of rural communities. With this, I hope to turn around the fortunes of many, both in the village where my farm is located and beyond.
I started with poultry farming in Gayaza near Kampala but I have since moved to Lutembe village in Katikamu Sub-county, Luweero District.
Here, I want to showcase that people should not depend on subsistence farming but embark on commercial agriculture.
The first person I brought on board was my wife, who is a graduate of ICT and nursing.
We started a backyard poultry business. It began with 500 layers and eventually expanded to 2,500 birds.
These increased to 7,000 chicken hence the need look for a bigger piece of land to cater for this number.
The target is to keep 30,000 chicken and have already secured the land.
I planned for this farming enterprise when I was a student. I bought the land where I have put my investments about 10 years ago when I was doing my research in Luwero.
The whole enterprise comprises of the following components.
Learning centre: I am establishing a learning centre for the Luwero region and beyond. I want to make the people around me to practise better farming methods.
This will lead to better yields because the locals are still living a subsistence life where they have little produce or none for market. Yet Kampala, which is a big market, is nearby.
The idea of the centre occured to him about two years ago when his wife was profiled in Seeds of Gold. Subsequently, there have been study visits to their backyard chicken farm in Gayaza.
Potatoes: I started with three acres of orange fleshed sweet potato. The garden has two varieties. This will not only bring in income from the sale of potatoes and vines but also nutritional improvement. A sack of vines goes for Shs 20,000.
Piggery: A pig is one of the farm animals that bring in income quicker. It is because it can eat anything, hence easier to feed and a farmer is able to sell the animals from piglets to mature pigs.
I am introducing piggery because most of the farmers in this area have enough land where they can keep the pigs and grow food for them. Thus, I encourage them to grow potatoes and feed their animals on both the potatoes and vines.
The urine and dung should be used as organic fertiliser in their gardens.
Poultry: Since my wife who has experience in poultry keeping, I intend to keep 20,000 birds in the next two years. The manure generated from the droppings will be used in the gardens.
Cassava: It is an important food and cash crop. It is slowly replacing matooke in the central region due to banana wilt disease.
I have opened up 10 acres of cassava using a tractor so as to have uniform planting. This helps in marketing when the crop matures. I aiming at selling the stem cuttings to farmers.
Currently, a bag of cuttings is Shs20,000 each. There are scarce because not many farmers are using improved cassava varieties, which are disease-resistant and high yielding.
Bananas: There are tissue culture varieties with high yield capacity and disease-free. The plantation is on four acres, which act as both a demonstration and mother garden for clean planting suckers.
Each sucker is Shs 1,000 yet the market is so big that I am overwhelmed with the orders. I want to expand the acreage.
Banana is integrated with coffee to diversify production. This helps to use the same land for different crops at the same time. When coffee is not in season, I am able to harvest bananas.
Trees: As a demonstration site, I planted six acres of eucalyptus and four of pine trees . This is to make a farmer understand that fringe land can be used to plant trees and still reap big.
There is great potential in agriculture and I do not want to teach the theory in lecture halls and have nothing to show on the ground.
With proper management, the economic returns in farming are evident depending in what one has ventured into.
I am happy that some of the enterprises have multiplier effect and are easy to adopt like poultry, cassava, bananas and sweet potatoes.
The centre has created employment for the youth who look after the pigs, chicken and banana plantation.
The facilities at the centre include chicken houses, pig stys, farm house, wells and electricity.
The biggest challenge is water where the sources are difficult to locate since it lies in the cattle corridor, which is semi-arid.
This story has been written by Otushabire Tibyangye from the Daily Monitor with slight modifications. Click here to view the original story http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/Farming/-I-set-up-my-farm-to-inspire-others-/-/689860/2941422/-/kyf76rz/-/index.html