Pius Tumwine 35, had always wanted to invest in agriculture, specifically, value addition but he did not have capital.
He grew up growing tomatoes and cabbages, all while rearing pigs to supplement on his parents’ income.
Years later, after school, he resigned from a well-paying accounting job at a hardware company to start a business advisory firm from which he saved sh100m and invested it back home in Rwoya village, Ruhinda sub-county in Rukungiri district.
He started with a maize mill; Ruhinda Millers Limited, and later Ruhinda animal feeds factory and a poultry farm with 6,000 birds.
He employs 40 permanent staff and several workers indirectly.
Diversifying into chicken feeds
Tumwine had always wanted to invest in poultry but feared the poor quality feeds that many farmers decry.
It’s why he chose to begin with a maize mill to be sure of a steady supply of maize bran.
He supplies maize flour to Rukungiri, Kanungu, Kabale and Mitooma districts.
In May 2020 after the maize mill had stabilized; Tumwine set up a poultry farm on family land (10 acres).
He also started producing fertilizers and set up a matooke plantation on one acre of land as well.
Meanwhile, Tumwine started with 2,000 birds and hired three poultry experts from Kampala for two months to manage the brooding stage, monitor and train workers on the farm.
He paid them sh1.2m monthly.
“Feeding the birds became expensive yet the feeds were not good going by how the birds were progressing,” he shares.
Tumwine decided to start a feed mill adjacent to the maize mill. He bought the machine (hummer and mixer) at sh7m.
He now sells feeds to farmers in Rukungiri and the neighbouring districts of Bushenyi, Kanungu, Kabale and Mitooma.
Tumwine inspires many people into poultry to target the bigger foreign market.
He plans to start exporting eggs to South Sudan and Rwanda. So he wants to have as many poultry farmers so he doesn’t have to collect eggs from Kampala.
“I target to have 23,000 birds by the end of the year 2022,” he says.
“Coordinating these businesses is not easy. I do consultancy work in Kampala from Monday to Thursday and travel to Rukungiri on Friday to Sunday,” he says.
However, Tumwine works with a dedicated team. But he also trains and equips them to execute the assignments in his absence.
Also, Tumwine’s biggest challenge was connecting his factory to the grid. He had to pay millions of money in bribes in addition to waiting for months and pleading to be connected.
“I was frustrated and almost gave up. I spent over sh30m in bribes while pleading for months to connect me,” he says.
“It’s unfortunate that this money is hard to account for in my financials,” he adds.
Tumwine appeals to authorities to fight corruption because it is hindering many local investors from starting serious projects in rural areas.
Another challenge is the poor road network. When it rains, transporting his merchandise to far away customers becomes hard and yet he can’t do anything about it.
“The constant power blackouts also make production difficult. We sometimes spend three to four days without power mostly during the rainy season,” he says.