When Parliament’s vetting committee rejected Kabula MP James Kakooza as a minister for Primary Health Care in 2011, citing inadequate academic qualifications, it hurt, but he shed no tears.
Instead, he sank his energies into farming. And three years down the road, the ‘accountant by profession’ is sure the MPs will soon be lining up at his farm to learn about the cash cow that is his farm. Although pushed there by fate, Kakooza speaks about farming like it was always some sort of destiny.
He boasts of selling 300 litres of milk daily from his three-acre farm at Kitazikoro village in Lyantonde district. Milk alone earns Kakooza about Shs 300,000 daily – good enough to maintain his farm, sustain his home and send his children to good schools even if he was not in Parliament.
“They [Parliament]accused me of not having relevant academic papers to qualify me for a ministerial post yet I am an accountant by profession,” Kakooza said, when The Observer visited the farm.
“Since I did not go to school to become a minister or work in government, I decided to use the knowledge I got from school to do something else. Currently I get much more money from the various projects which are not related to Parliament or government, and I have not reached where I want to be.”
Kakooza says he started with ten cows, but now has “more than” 150. Majority are Friesians but he also has some long-horned local breeds. He started by buying, but a few friends also gave him some animals to boost the new farm.
“But as you all know the practice among cattle keepers, when one gives you a cow, he will come and pick the calf when it produces,” he says, subtly suggesting his herd could otherwise have been bigger.
Kakooza, like any herder, won’t say exactly how many animals he has, but his target is about 400 head of cattle.
“I am looking forward to collecting a minimum of 1,500 litres of milk on a daily basis which will earn me a total of Shs 1.5m a day. When I get there, I will be very far from where a minister is,” said Kakooza, who also keeps goats and sheep.
A well-looked-after goat or sheep goes between Shs 100,000 and Shs 150,000, according to Kakooza’s estimates, and he hopes to sell at least 20 of them a week.
“I want to show those MPs that money is not only in the august House but even outside. They will have to come to me and consult me on how I do things just like some of them have already started doing,” Kakooza said.
With unmistakable pride, he reveals that Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko and Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga have already visited his farm, appreciated his work and bought some animals from him. Kakooza challenges MPs to prepare for their destinations in case they don’t get the mandate of the people in subsequent elections.
“The problem is that when we get into those elective posts, many of us think that we shall maintain there until death but things change and you find some of us hiding away from the public because we did not prepare very well,” he said.
Unlike other farmers who use artificial insemination, Kakooza uses a bull to cross the other cows because it produces better results in milk and calves. He also treasures natural grass, which he regards as more effective than additives or any other supplementary foods. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Kakooza can be found on his farm dirtying his hands, personally taking part in washing the animals using spray race.
During the week, when he gets his suit back on, his staff of three keeps the farm going. Asked about the market, Kakooza is optimistic that it will never run out. Only recently, President Museveni commissioned a big dairy factory at Kageeti in nearby Kiruhura district it has capacity to take 450,000 litres of milk a day.
“With the presence of that factory, the demand for milk will go higher and the price will automatically rise from the Shs 1,000 at which we currently sell it,” he said.
Kakooza says he picked the interest in grazing from President Museveni, who once challenged him to explain how he led the people of Kabula, most of whom are cattle keepers.
“When the members of Parliament started querying my academic papers yet President Museveni had already given me a big challenge by showing me a very successful farmer, I said ‘to hell with fighting to become a minister’.”
Source : The Observer