By Ritah Mukasa
Seth Uwizeye Ruta 29 is a dairy farmer in Nyarubanga village in Mbarara district. He currently has 22 Friesians on part of 150 acres of family land. He also keeps over 100 goats.
So far, Ruta says, he sells 20 liters of milk daily at sh1, 500 per liter.
These come from five cows.
He uses the proceeds to maintain the farm, treat the animals and pay the three herdsmen sh100, 000 each month.
He also pays sh200, 000 to the veterinary doctor and sh250, 000 for security.
He sells the milk to homes and shops and collects cash on delivery.
He says, being in town, the demand for milk is overwhelming.
“They like my milk for being fresh and clean. For example, if I inject a cow, I do not sell the milk. I also deliver on time and consistently,” he says.
Additionally, every three months, Ruta sells a truck of cow dung at sh650, 000.
“I don’t spend on water because we have a well in the farm. But I plan to scale up the farm to be more economically viable,” he says.
Ruta says, his herdsmen are unskilled. They cannot identify animal diseases and how to care for the sick ones. Therefore, he has to be hands-on all the time.
In addition, veterinary doctors are few and very busy. He now pays one, sh200, 000 every month to be available whenever he is needed. Before, he lost three cows due to East Coast fever after the doctor responded late.
“It’s devastating to lose an animal you have raised for years but I learn from the loss and move on,” he says.
Another hiccup is security. Ruta used to lose goats to thieves until he recruited a guard for whom he pays sh250, 000 every month.
“This area is also dry. Finding grass is not easy. I have resorted to hydroponics fodder and Napier which I supplement with maize,” he says.
On the pesticides, he says ticks become drug resistant yet the drugs are also expensive.