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Home Change Makers Kyakulaga Dropped Out Of School To Discover Fortune In Farming

Kyakulaga Dropped Out Of School To Discover Fortune In Farming

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By George Bita

Although Primary Two school dropouts are considered failures by common standards, Patrick Kyakulaga has defi ed the odds to become a successful farmer.

“I was not comfortable with academic work. So I chose to leave Naimuli Primary School in Luuka district and fend for myself at a tender age,” Kyakulaga says.

He says as a child from a poor family, his immediate challenge was to escape poverty.

The 55-year-old currently owns a 20-acre urban farmland at Buwongo village in Nakalama sub-county, Iganga district. He has a tree plantation, a dairy section, goats and a poultry house spread out on the expansive farmland.

Genesis

In 2015, after proving his prowess in the business world, Kyakulaga used sh300m from his savings to acquire the 20-acre land in the suburb of Iganga municipality.

Kyakulaga (left) inspecting workers as they set up paddocks for cattle at his Iganga farm. By George Bita

He proceeded to plant eucalyptus trees as a pioneer project on the farm that now boasts numerous enterprises organised under Gajoc Investments Limited.

Tree project

Geoffrey Byansi, the farm manager, explains that the trees cover eight acres of the farmland.

“We invested about sh20m in setting up the artifi cial forest. The money was used in clearing the ground, planting and weeding,” Byansi says.

He reveals that each of the seedlings of eucalyptus and pine bought from Bukaleba Farm in Mayuge district, cost sh1,000.

He adds that so far, the wood from the forest has been vital in constructing shelters for cattle, goats and poultry.

Dairy

Kyakulaga says he has 10 local breed cows he bought a decade ago, but has plans to sell and replace them with cross-breeds.

“The herd is zero-grazed. I have already invested over sh25m in buying 10 heifers and constructing a shelter for them,” he says, adding that paddocks are being set up to grow enough fodder for the heifers.

“I have so far invested sh5m in labour, a chain-link fence, and getting the grass seeds to plant as animal fodder,” Kyakulaga says.

Goat rearing

Kyakulaga says last October, he embarked on a project of rearing 45 goats at his farm.

“I used sh15m from timber sales to buy local breed goats. We expect to sell them in urban markets whenever demand arises,” he says.

Kyakulaga adds that the goats are released into the afforestation section to feed on the grass in between the trees.

“Since they are local ones, they feed on the most common grass in between the trees. However, during dry spells, we purchase hay cut from the nearby Nakalama wetland at a cost of sh50,000 per day, including labour.”

Poultry project

Kyakulaga notes that the farm currently has 700 Kuroiler chicks, 300 local chickens, as well as 100 turkeys.

He invested an estimated sh7m in buying the chicks and setting up the poultry house.

“I started this project in June last year and so far, dealers at Iganga Central Market are aware and buy chicken for the festive season and other holidays from here,” he discloses.

Kyakulaga says he gets feeds directly from well-established commercial mills with the capacity to supply nonstop for a long time. “This ensures that I get quality feeds. I spend an estimated sh4m on feeds per month,” he says.

Water supply

Byansi says water is crucial in the day-to-day running of the farm enterprise.

“We could therefore not solely rely on unreliable supplies. A sh7m solar water plant came in handy, making us have water all year round,” he assures.

The system has two tanks with a combined capacity of 10,000 litres to keep the water pumped by a submersible pump. Another 5,000-litre tank at the farmhouse is used to harvest rainwater.

Security status

Byansi says the establishment has been fenced off to boost the security on the farm.

“The chain link fence cannot easily be compromised by thieves. We also have two dogs that scare away those planning to steal farm property,” he says.

Risks involved

Kyakulaga says in farming, there is a risk of suffering great losses if one concentrates on only one venture.

“That is why I have chosen to have a variety of projects on the farm. If one fails in a particular season, I can compensate with profi ts from another section of the farm,” he says.

Kyakulaga adds that interactions between his animals and those of his neighbours could end up causing disease outbreaks at the farm.

“I have overcome this risk by fencing the entire farm. It is diffi cult for any contact to take place with other animals in the neighbourhood,” he says.

Checking cheats

Kyakulaga discloses that dealing in a wide range of enterprises poses the threat of being taken for a ride by unscrupulous individuals.

“We take precautions and use the services of agricultural extension workers from Iganga district local government to double-check our farm inputs. This has helped a lot in safeguarding against would-be cheats,” he says.

Farm sustainability

Florence Kyakulaga, his wife, explains that she is tasked with making weekly reports about the farm’s activities.

“I make entries of all sales and expenditure at the farm. It is one way we can tell whether the venture is profi table or making losses,” she says.

Winifred Kyakulaga, a daughter, says all family members are involved to ensure that the business stays afl oat, with or without their father’s presence. “He carefully placed it under Gajoc Investment Ltd, which is a family company. Hence all of us have shares in the venture,” the daughter reveals.

Community correlation

Sospeter Magumba, the Buwongo LCI chairperson, appreciates Kyakulaga for setting up an artifi cial forest in the urban neighbourhood, which acts as a windbreak during storms.

“We also buy chicken and other farm produce from his farm. This saves residents from moving to far-off markets,” Magumba says. BIO

Safety concerns

Byansi says they use artifi cial insemination to make sure only good breeds are produced at the farm.

“Our fence keeps away stray animals that may spread diseases on the farm. It also saves us the expenses involved in seeking the services of a vet,” he says.

Farming knowledge

Kyakulaga says he takes part in farmers’ seminars and workshops to boost his farming knowledge.

He adds that the farm manager is knowledgeable about key farming skills and uses these well to improve the farm.

“I have also used foreign tours to China, Dubai and Japan to get vital farming tips. Learning is a continuous process, so I cherish getting more information as much as possible,” Kyakulaga says.

Achievements

Kyakulaga says he has been able to educate his children from profi ts made through the farm enterprises.

“I was able to get an urban house constructed out of farming. Other constructions include a shopping arcade in town,” he reveals.

Good farming practices

Byansi notes that they use waste from the animal houses to get organic manure which they use on the farm.

He adds that disinfection troughs have been strategically placed to ensure disease-causing germs are not brought into contact with the farm animals.

Byansi says the disinfectant is changed every four days to ensure a fresh solution is in use.

“We dug up trenches in the tree section to trap runoff rainwater. This is one sure way of holding water for a longer time to maintain the soil’s moisture content,” he says.

Mistakes made

In 2018, Kyakulaga ventured into keeping pigs at the farm. However, his piggery project turned out to be an inconvenience to his neighbours, prompting him to abandon it.

“I realised I had made a mistake by setting up a piggery in a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood. So I had to sell off the 120 pigs I had started with,” he explains.

Kyakulaga says it had cost him about sh10m to set up the structure and purchase the pigs from a farm in Jinja.

Hamidu Kawanguzi, the Nakalama LC3 chairperson, recalls how locals complained about a piggery in the village, forcing Kyakulaga to do away with it.

“Some locals even threatened to poison the pigs. That would have been a big loss to the farmer,” Kawanguzi says.

Kyakulaga’s farm labourforce

l Geoffrey Byansi, the farm manager, discloses that the farm has six workers who take home a monthly pay package of sh300,000.

“However, we also occasionally hire casual labourers. These are needed during construction, planting, weeding and harvesting times, and are paid according to work done,” he says.

Byansi adds that the use of labourers from the nearby village is problematic, as they are easily swayed by detractors to stop offering services or even indulge in theft since their homes are in the vicinity.

“As farm management, we have found a solution to this dilemma by looking for labour from far-off regions. When you get workers from Teso or Bunyoro regions, they can’t use the local language to relate with locals easily and, therefore, work well as they tend to focus only on the business,” Byansi says.

Farm’s prospects

Kyakulaga anticipates turning the farm into a learning centre within two years, so that agriculture students and fellow farmers can benefit.

He says plans are underway to buy more territory from his willing neighbours to have ample space for visitors to sit down and learn in a serene environment.

“I equally want to have a value addition department here. The milk could be used to make yoghurt or ice cream, while a hatchery to get chicks for sale,” Kyakulaga says.

Residents speak out

Charles Kiwanuka, farmer from Busei zone, Iganga municipality, says Kyakulaga has proved that once you have the vision, you can accomplish any venture.

He went even further to show that farming can be done successfully in an urban setting.

Jane Nabirye, resident of Iganga municipality, says the farm’s location within the town environment gives them the option of buying produce at a farm gate price, which is more friendly compared to market rates.

Dr David Muwanguzi, resident of Iganga municipality, says farming was not an easy venture. And so with what Kyakulaga had achieved, he needs to be commended for having got that far.

Who is Kyakulaga?

1977 — Joined Naimuli PS in Luuka district in Primary One.

1978 — Dropped out of school to start doing odd jobs for cash.

2004 — Started using his business dividends to trade in Dubai, UAE.

2011 — Visited Japan and became interested in afforestation.

2015 — He used his savings to start tree planting on his 20-acre farmland in Iganga town.

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