Flying to Europe was a dream that she thought would remain just that! But in June 2017, Clara Anzoa Aya, flew to the Netherlands, thanks to her being a winner in the 2016 Best farmers competition.
Anzoa is a 43-year-old woman from Cele celea west village in Moyo town council. She is the owner of Aya mixed farm. She mainly practices piggery and poultry, a business that she has done for 10 years.
“Netherlands was an amazing country in all aspects. Their farms are very organized, with a lot of machinery,” she says.
But what caught her eye was the level of value addition on farm products.
“I vowed to start adding value to my products because that gives more money,” she says.
So, when she came back, rather than sell live pigs, she started slaughtering them.
“I set up a restaurant where I sell roasted pork, among others. My earnings per kilogram rose from sh5,000 to sh20,000,” she says.
At the same restaurant, she also sells ‘dressed’ or roasted chicken from her farm.
When she won in 2016, she had 3 breeds of pigs. These included Comborough, Large white and Landrace. In total, she had 63 mature pigs, that is, 60 sows and 3 boars.
“It is basically these pigs that won me the trip to the Netherlands,” she says.
Today, she scaled down due to the COVID-19 lockdown. She maintains 47 breeding sows with the ability to produce at least 800 piglets annually.
However, she says that these are better managed and yield more per sow than before, thanks to the pigs’ feeding and management lessons that she got from the Netherlands.
“When I came back, I sourced better Landrace breeds from fellow best farmer Aloysious Lubega of Bulamu farm in Wakiso. I bought 23 mature sows from him in 2019,” she says. These cost her.
How she started
Clara says her interest in farming dates back to her childhood.
“My mum was a farmer but not on a large scale and she instilled that in us at a very young age, we would raise ducks, goats and chicken,” she says.
Adding “Actually if you come to my home, my youngest child is 10 years but she collects eggs from the chicken house and that is how they get to be interested.”
Anzoa previously owned a shop in Moyo town, something she did for 12 years, up to 2009.
“I tried it but I just couldn’t get the money I wanted so I decided to quit to venture into farming, today I make money every day from the sale of pork, pigs and chicken,” she says.
Using savings from her business and a loan from a local bank, she started the construction of the piggery and chicken houses.
“I started small, with one structure with a capacity of 5 pigs. I have since improved that capacity to over 100 mature pigs,” she says.
Anzoa’s popularity after winning the competition helped her widen her market reach.
“I now sell piglets to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” she says.
Recently, she sold 143 piglets to farmers in South Sudan.
“I also sell to smallholder farmers around Moyo, Adjumani and Gulu,” she says.
Anzoa sells a two-month-old piglet at between sh100,000 to sh200,000 depending on the breed.
Anzoa also acquired a cooling system where pork is kept before it is transported to butchers in Pabbo, Gulu and Adjumani.
“We distribute to pork butchers in Pabbo, Gulu and Adjumani. We slaughter the pigs overnight, keep them in cold refrigerators and in the morning, we take them to the buses in cold boxes that deliver them at the various points,” she says.
The fridges cost her sh3m.
“One of the most important things that I learnt from the Netherlands was that to earn good money from livestock, for example, chicken and pigs you must feed them well,” she says.
Unfortunately, previously, she says that some of her workers were not as good at mixing the feeds and that this impacted the pigs’ growth and egg production, especially when she was not around to supervise.
“I learnt some formulas for mixing the feeds from the Netherlands and so I am applying them on my farm,” she says.
In the Netherlands, she learnt that pigs can be effectively fed on concentrates mixed with just maize bran and whole maize.
“We received training in pigs feeding at the Koudjis BV factory in the Netherlands. I realized that rather than go through the hassle of mixing so many items, I would rather buy a concentrate, mix it with bran and then get a good feed,” she says.
This has improved the rate of growth of the pigs and the taste of pork.
“Pigs grow faster and the pork is leaner with less fat,” she says.
Anzoa says the most important thing is to understand what the pigs need.
She grows Potatoes that are used as feed for the pigs. The rest of the feeds are bought just like is the case with chicken, she also mixes the pig feeds herself.
COVID 19 effects
Between 2020 and 2021, she was seriously affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I lost nearly sh100m in the poultry enterprise in April 2020. I had thousands of broilers ready for the market but there was nobody buying,” she says.
She sold off the birds at as low as sh4,000 and yet the normal price should have been sh13,000. She is however slowly recovering from this loss.
“We have restocked twice since then, I am expecting the next day old stock next week,” she says.
The pigs’ enterprise was also affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I had 70 breeding sows before COVID-19 lockdown, however, the market became so bad that I had to scale down to 40 breeders at the moment,” she says.
The others were slaughtered and sold off as pork.
“But we are recovering now,” she says.
The 47 breeders produce at least 800 piglets per year.
One secret to her development has been her up-to-date records.
“I keep ledgers for my daily transactions and expenses because we were taught to keep books, for instance I know through my records how much feeds I use for both pigs and chicken, how many chicken I sell and how many eggs I collect daily, it helps you to realize the direction you are taking,” she says.
Anzoa has employed eight people that she pays monthly, four at her old farm at her home, the other four on her new farm.
The four employees get sh250,000 a month and the others at the new farm get sh200,000.
She has also got workers at the restaurants. Her average monthly wage bill is sh3m.
Anzoa says the community around her has learnt a lot from her farming exploits, “currently I am training people under ZOA, a local NGO.
“There is a girl who even came to me, she is a university graduate but unemployed, she came asking me to train her, to raise pigs,” she says.
Off her cuff, she counts over 30 pig farmers in Moyo and Adjumani alone who are keeping pigs, thanks to her inspiration.
Anzoa has established a community out-growers scheme in Moyo, intended to help farmers come out of poverty.
“These farmers get pigs from me and when they decide to sell, I buy the pigs because I have the market. The farmers are also assured of a steady market,” she says.
Pamela Ayo is one of the beneficiaries of this piggery out-growers scheme; “I keep three sows that I bought from Anzoa and I am able to survive comfortably from the earnings. My pigs produced 40piglets last year, which was good money.”
“Going to the Netherlands was the peak of my achievements. That was a dream which I had never thought could turn into a reality,” she says.
She has a set of well-built houses for the pigs and chicken, something that has cost a fortune.
She has built a two-roomed house for her office and a store with stocked medicine and other immediate needs for her farm, bought a grinder, a machine used for crushing her feeds before mixing.
She also built a new piggery unit that can accommodate 33 pigs, a project of about sh30m, and acquired herself a new piece of land about 3 km away from her current location. But above all, she has acquired herself a car from farm earnings.
Anzoa has also acquired herself Friesian cows at sh2.5m each and secured an incubator to start hatching eggs.
She says that she partly wanted to reduce the cost and risk of buying day-old chicks from Kampala, but also to help farmers in her locality to get day-old chicks cheaply.
“We had started a chicken mother stock and even hatched chicks, but we sold off the mother stock during COVID-19 lockdown because we did not have buyers,” she says.
She built herself a shallow well at her home in 2017 to supplement the piped water; it gives her a constant water supply, and the well goes all year round without drying.
“This improved the supply of water to the animals and reduced the cost of fetching water from a fare,” she says.
“I see a very wide path for me because it has been 7 years without anything like a loan.
Her next plan is to get a pickup vehicle that she will use to transport her produce and for transporting feeds from the different locations.
Her plan is to eventually sell 1,000 piglets every year by 2023.
“If you sell 600 piglets then you end up with sh60m, if you get a net of sh40m, I don’t think it is that bad but with time I want to sell 1,000 piglets in the long run,” she says
To other farmers
“Women should not fold their hands, when I began this project, no one helped me, even my husband refused to help me, because he thought I could never be successful until I started succeeding, but today I don’t see myself going back because the project is self-sustaining,”
Women should stop spending most of their time in salons and always beg men for money because once you stop begging but also earn money for yourself, you will earn more respect from everybody,” she says.
What others say
Fabian Dralaze, farmer, Moyo; “Anzoa has done many things that even men are not capable of. She drew her investment line and stuck to it. Many of us copied it and now we are practising. All of us may not become the best farmers but the inspiration that we have got is a big benefit to us,”
Mary Santa Wale; “Anzoa showed Moyo that you can be rewarded if you are a good farmer. People used to despise farmers because, for many years, it was considered a task for failure. When she flew to Europe, many of us realized that farming is actually a job. We are now following in her footsteps,”