By HERBERT to MUSOKE
Aidah Mulungwa is one of the beneficiaries of Hatches Ltd activities of increasing market access and productivity of the poultry value chain through effective and environmentally efficient inputs in the Central and Eastern Uganda.
“I was approached by Mercy Mugweri who is the monitoring and evaluation officer for Hatchers Limited with her workmate last year in April. By the time she came here, there was totally nothing but I managed to have a lot in just one year,” she recalls.
At her farm at Masese 1, Jinja East in Jinja town, Jjaja Mummy, as she is commonly known, is into mushroom growing, poultry and Black Soldier Flies (BSF) which she has been doing for over ten years but had gone out of business because of labour challenges while still at Lugazi.
“We were taken for a training in black soldier flies at Lugazi and we were given the skills in rearing these flies, how to feed them to the poultry but also sell them to other farmers,” she says.
She explains that before the training, she had a lady who used to buy her maggots but she couldn’t meet her demand as she wanted 10kgs and above almost every day yet they could collect this much in about a week.
My poultry farm is now profitable
Julius Mugabi is a farmer at Kagira Town council, Wayiraka B-Cell keeping poultry and piggery. He says the main thing he is thankful for from Hatchers is the training as he now changed from deep litter system to cage farming where he gets the droppings used to make biogas.
“By following the technical knowledge, I was given by Hatchers, especially bio-security, I can keep my chicken without medication unlike before when we used to keep chicken on medication throughout,” he says.
He explains that he did not get enough education and after dropping out he started keeping chicken now about 20 years and now he is into broilers with 480 broiler chickens at different maturity levels 180 are ready for sale and 300 are one week old.
“I am optimistic that Hatchers will continue helping us because with just this training, I have improved a lot in the profitability of my farm and just hope for the best,” he says.
Mugabi explains that one of the challenges he has is actuating feed prices starting with maize grain coupled with concentrates as traders say they are facing high taxes which makes it expensive by the time we finish mixing our feed.
“Now a kilo can be at shs3, 000 yet before it would be about shs2, 300 as maize was at shs800 and would buy broken at shs850 but now it is at shs1, 800,” he says.
Also, the market is still challenging him as much of it is local market as buyers don’t want to buy grown chicken at about six weeks that would be at about shs17, 000 or shs19, 000 yet at four weeks they can buy it at shs10, 000.
“I Plan to start rearing BSF that I can use to mix my feed to maximize my poultry profitability and also venture into vegetable farming,” he says.
I rear my chicken without medicines
Ruth Namayanja is a poultry farmer at Kikooli village, Buikwe town council in Buikwe district is one of the farmers so proud of Hatchers Ltd, for the training as she can now rear her chicken to the time she sells them off without medication.
“I got in touch with Hatchers last year but these few months have contributed to the increase in my farm incomes since I have reduced my operation costs just by applying the best agronomic practices like bio-security, proper aeration and proper feeding among others,” she explains.
She explains that she learnt that not everyone must be allowed to enter the chicken house, broiler chickens are not meant to feed 24hrs as they need some time with empty feeders to allow them rest but also allow their bodies to utilize the food eaten.
She adds that now she measures the feed she serves her chicken every day and serves it three-times throughout the day which allows proper use of the feed and avoids wastage which therefore minimizes operational costs.
Also, she sells-off her chicken between 4-5 weeks unlike before when she would sell them by 6-7 weeks yet each day chicken stays on the farm is a cost that reduces the profit margin.
“Now the challenge I have is market as the main market I have is from the middle-men who on many occasions cheat us as they dictate the prices yet it should be us the farmers to set our prices since we are the ones in the know of what it took us to raise this chicken,” she says.
Hatchers Limited working with aBi
Mercy Mugweri who is the monitoring and evaluation officer at Mbalala-Mukono explains that it was started in 2003. It is into poultry breeding producing day-old chicks, poultry feed and grain management facility.
“In October, 2021 we entered a working partnership with aBi to implement a project “Increasing Market Access and Productivity of the Poultry Value Chain through effective and environmentally efficient Inputs in Central and Eastern Uganda,’ she says.
The project will run for three years about poultry and black soldier flies implemented in Mukono, Buikwe and Jinja by getting model farmers who then trained and the other willing farmers are put under those model farmers.
Here, Hatchers Ltd, a financial grant from aBi to support the implementation and realization of this project to effect a positive change among farmers.
The company continues organizing training at the model farmers’ premises facilitated by company extension workers with the help of the model farmers since they are training at the training of the trainers.
“Also, while the model farmers are running their farmers, our extension farmers are always there to help them and guide in whatever step they take, like building houses, procurement of chicks and black soldier fly eggs among others,” she adds.
After the training, the company continues monitoring the progress and advising and refreshing them all the way but also do market access as the company is in partnership with Namawojjolo Market to connect them with buyers if one fails to get the market.
“For the Black soldier flies, some farmers rear them to get maggots to feed their chicken and also sell them but as we expect to increase production, we are finalizing the formulas to replace silver fish with maggots in the poultry feed,” she says.
According to Mugweri, the demand for BSF lave is higher than they could produce which was the main reason for mobilizing and training more farmers into BSF rearing.
Availing rearing stock
Mugweri explains that they have a partner company called Ento-feeds who have the whole cycle of BSF who provide rearing eggs from them.
“Some farmers don’t want to go through the whole cycle of rearing BSF where they want to get the eggs, rear them and when the lave matures, they just sell them off and look for eggs elsewhere,” she explains.
The chicks, are producing day-old quality chicks that farmers can buy from our outlets in Old-Kampala, Mukono and we have plans to open up an outlet in Jinja.
Mugweri explains that the project has caused development in the poultry sector as more farmers have ventured into BSF rearing and poultry; the project now has 1,135 farmers in both BSF and poultry.
“We have trained farmers in best agronomic practices like aeration, feeding, disease control among others which has increased production and profitability among farmers which to us is a big achievement since we encourage farmers to run their farms as businesses,” she says.
She explains that unlike the other projects that provide everything to the willing participants, in this project a farmer has to contribute some funds but they are always encouraging them to start small and continue moving as they develop to bigger projects.
What the future holds
Mugweri explains that BSF is still a new technology and many farmers have picked interest yet the silver fish has a lot of challenges like aflatoxins levels and the increasing consumption competition between the humans and animals, so introduction of feed mixed with BSF will put Hatchers Ltd on the market as BSF has higher protein content than silver fish and also from the farmers our chicken are performing well.
The Agriculture Business Initiative (aBi Development Ltd), was jointly founded by the Government of Denmark and Uganda in 2010. Its focus is to increase agricultural production and value addition by extending matching grant and Business Development services to agribusinesses, farmer organizations and intermediaries to enhance planning and management, production and business infrastructure, as well as upstream and downstream market linkages of producers and agribusiness. In order to achieve the following results; increase smallholder farmer’s sustainable production, productivity and marketing integration; sustainable enhanced.