By Joshua Kato
From a workforce of just seven personnel on one establishment in Semuto, HMH-Rainbow (Yo Kuku) is now marking 12 years in the poultry sector, with a lot of success, and yes their neighbours at Bukeeka Primary School are also not left behind.
The poultry firm now has five poultry farms in Semuto, Kapeeka, Kawumu, and Butalangu, with tens of out-growers and outlets around the country.
“When we came here to set up our enterprises in Semuto, the second piece of land that we saw was here in Bukeeka. We were small. We did not envisage how things would be in future, but we took it and good enough our neighbours welcomed us with open hands,” Rafik Manji, the CEO said while officiating at a function to hand over a kitchen and scholastic materials to Bukeeka Primary School.
Recently, the company marked 12 years in Uganda by handing over a modern kitchen constructed for teachers and pupils of Bukeeka Primary School, Semuto. The school sits next to one of Yo Kuku`s broiler farms.
“We were fetching water about 2kms away from here in a swamp,” says Mathias Tebandeke, Bukeeka Primary School Headmaster, adding Yo kuku simply connected the school to one of their water tanks and the water challenge was solved. The school, which started in 1990 now has 866 pupils.
“For the kitchen, we just had a shade that was sitting on six poles. We were also using ordinary fire stones to cook the pupil’s food,” Tebandeke says.
The new kitchen is constructed with bricks, equipped with multiple-purpose cooking stoves capable of accommodating at least four big saucepans at the same time.
At the function held at the school, on November 17, Rafik Manji, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) HMH-Rainbow reiterated the group’s commitment to working with her neighbours. In addition to the kitchen, the school also received other scholastic materials including books and classroom chalk.
“On Christmas, we shall also provide chicken to all teachers of the school,” Rafik Manji said.
Margaret Kayongo, the area LC3 councilor at Kapeeka Sub-county thanked Yo Kuku for being a good neighbor.
“There are people who come in your area and you grow goose pimples, but when these people came here, they have proven to be good for everybody,” she said.
She asked the school, one of the UPE establishments to maintain the water source and the kitchen well.
“Yo Kuku has given us these things, but it is now up to you to look after them. Do not embarrass us by destroying them,” she said.
Community benefits- Out-growers, skills and health standards
Today, almost 90% of the local population in Semuto, about 50 kms from Kampala work in HMH directly or indirectly, according to Manji.
They are training local communities on biosafety for the health of the birds to curb disease spread. They have also engaged out-growers who supply day-old chicks and feeds (maize) and then the company provides medicine.
Enkoko, the other brand of the company is selling chicken to the community at a lower margin so that the community can resell and make a margin.
“We are still looking for more out-growers who we will train to comply with our standards, they can also rear chicken, and we supply them with management skills, feeds and medicine and we rebuy their chicken,” said Manji.
He says there are currently four big out-growers supplying HMH Rainbow.
Also because the chicken is fed purely on plant protein and does not receive antibiotics or growth promoters, there exists a market for locals to supply these grains (soya and maize) because currently about 4,000 tonnes are consumed in three months. Retailers also sell the chicken for a margin.
“The demand is huge, the only way we can exploit the agriculture potential is by more farmers coming on board. We also should have more people grow maize, soya, the demand is there,” notes Manji.