Teachers making an extra buck from the farming business

I am Eva Namayanja, a resident of Iganga Municipality in Iganga District, and a primary school teacher by profession. I hold a diploma in education and a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.

I have been a teacher for 20 years having started my career at Kabowa Trinity School in Kampala before I started my own school called Iganga Children’s Centre Primary School. It is found in Iganga Municipality and has an enrollment of 900.

Besides being a teacher, I am also a commercial mixed farmer. I grow bananas, maize and trees and rear dairy cattle and poultry. I carry out dairy farming under the zero grazing system. All these enterprises are on four acres of land. The banana and maize occupy an acre each while the pine tree plantation is on two acres.

For the cows and chicken, I carry out both in the backyard. These two activities occupy just a small piece of land. I decided to carry farming to supplement my income and to get food to feed my family. To start these enterprises, I went to the bank, where I got a loan of Shs2m in 1998.

Dairy farming
I started the dairy unit with two cows, which I bought at Shs250,000 each. I constructed a shed using locally available materials wood and old iron sheets. I also constructed using cement and sand containers, where the grass or any other feed is placed for the cows to feed easily.

In one of the containers, I put water for the cows. Constructing these structures cost about Shs900,000.
When my cows were mature, I went to an animal husbandry officer, who applied artificial insemination on both cows. The aim of doing so was to improve on the breed.

The breed needed to be improved because it had a small milk output. But before he applied artificial insemination on the cows, he first asked me what I kept my cows for milk or beef?
After nine months, my cows gave birth to cross breeds. When they also got mature I again used artificial insemination.

The calves were 70 per cent Friesian. These now give me 10 litres of milk a day. From the four cows I have, I get at least 40 litres of milk daily. I feed my cows on pasture grasses such as elephant grass and some legumes, which I planted on the boundary of my gardens though sometimes I get grass from bushes around my area at no cost. To make the pasture more palatable to the animals, I mix it with molasses, a liquid or solid sugar substance made from sugar cane. I buy it from local traders at Shs20,000 per 20-litre jerrycan.

In a day, each cow eats about 100kg of pasture and drinks about 60 litres of water. I ensure that my cows drink a lot of water and also get enough to eat because I have discovered that the more food and water they consume, the more milk I they give.

I sell 20 litres of the milk to my school everyday while I sell 15 litres to individual customers, who pay me at the end of the month. Each litre of milk is Shs1,200. The five litres are consumed by my family.
Since I am the owner of the school, I compute how much I have supplied to the school and then pay myself. Because of this, I am not worried that I will not be paid. Secondly, this enabled me to provide high quality milk, which is not mixed with water to the pupils. From this enterprise, I get at least Shs1.2m every month.

Growing bananas
The bananas are of the Mpologoma variety. I decided on this variety because it does not only have big bunches but also matures faster compared to indigenous varieties. It is also tasty and thus liked by customers.
I bought the suckers at Shs1,000 each. To plant them, I first dug pits where I put manure, left them in that state for about a month before placing the suckers. This was so that the manure can fully decompose and not harm the plants.

When the banana were at seven months, I mulched them using grass.
Mulching controls soil erosion, suppresses weeds and adds fertility to the soil. I also use cow dung as fertiliser in the plantation. I wait the dung to decompose before I apply it.
Every week, I harvest at least 20 bunches, which go for Shs8,000- Shs15,000 though the price goes up to Shs30,000 during scarcity. I also sell suckers at Shs1,000 each. I sell some of the bananas to my school and to traders in Iganga market.
From bananas I get about Shs200,000 a month.

Pine, maize and chicken
Pine: I started growing pine trees six years ago. I bought the seedlings from a tree nursery in Iganga at Shs500 each. I planted 950 trees though some did not grow and I remained with 800 trees. I hope to sell the trees when they mature at 20 years and expect to get about Shs300m. In 2028, the trees will fetch me a lot of money when I am older. The weeding was done when the trees were young but now they have grown and can suppress the weeds. They also do not require spraying with pestcides to kill pests.

Maize: I grow Longe 6H maize variety because it is early maturing, drought tolerant and resistant to pests and diseases. This variety does well on fertile soils but because the soil is not very fertile, I apply NPK to boost fertility. Maize is the best for intercropping with many other food crops such as beans and thus saves on land space.

Poultry: There are 1,000 broilers. I bought the chicks from Ugachick at Shs1,500 each. I decided to start with broilers because I can sell them in a short time compared to layers, which take six months before one can get any money from them. I sell them to hotels and individuals at Shs12,000 each. But I hope to shift to layers because they are also profitable as one gets money for a longer period from eggs and selling the off-layers.

Using proceeds, partly from farming, I have been able to construct structures for my school and rental houses in Iganga. From the school and rental houses, I get money to pay school fees for my children, one of whom is studying at Nkumba University. I have also bought a car, which has eased my movements.
Secondly, I have been able to save money, which I would have used to buy food for home consumption.
I now use this money to carry out development projects.

Future plans
In the near future, I plan to buy two more dairy cows that can yield 30 litres of milk daily. But this would require more land where I will grow pasture to feed them that can consume 200 kg of feed a day.
I have realised demand for milk is increasing in this area. These cows would increase my income to about Shs3.5m a month. I also plan to venture into fruit growing such as passion fruits and oranges because they have a ready market in this area.
Thirdly, I plan to start using my garden to teach the pupils modern farming methods. This is to help them love agriculture as they grow up.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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