I have milked my cow to wealth – Yahaya Wandwasi
Publish Date: May 17, 2012
I have milked my cow to wealth – Yahaya Wandwasi
  • mail
  • img

By andrew masinde 
My Way:Yahaya Wandwasi
Wandwasi used to get 25 litres of milk daily from the cow he got from Heifer International.  He would sell the milk and use the money to engage in other farming ventures. When he had saved sh400,000, he bought a piece of land on which he planted coffee. He started with 100 coffee plants and planted more as he got more money. Now he has over 400 Arabica coffee plants. 
He has also started growing an improved coffee breed known as catamal, which takes one year to mature and yield. He has 200 catamal coffee trees, which brings the total number of coffee trees to 600.  Wandwasi says that coffee provides long-term benefits and continues prime production for about 10 years.
Deep in the village of Lwambogo in Mbale district, Yahaya Wandwasi has succeeded in farming after giving up his job as a local imbalu surgeon. Wandwasi’s education journey stopped in primary school because his parents could not afford his tuition fees. 
Although he was an imbalu surgeon for 30 years, he did not gain much from the trade.
“That job was unreliable because it was seasonal. One got work only in even years and remained unemployed in odd years, so I decided to look for something else to supplement my income. That was when I ventured into farming,” Wandwasi says.
How he started
In 1992, Wandwasi started farming by rearing a few local chicken. After about five months, a non-governmental organisation called Heifer International – Uganda came to his village sensitising people about the benefits of dairy farming.
After attending a workshop, Wandwasi embraced the idea and attended their training. In 1994, he was given one cow to start with. The only condition was he had to give five calves  to five other farmers in the group, after which the cow would become his.
He did what he was told to do and now has six cows.
“It was difficult initially because I would feed the cow, but give away the calves. However, I persisted because I was getting the milk,” he says. 
Magic cow
Wandwasi says he used to get 25 litres of milk daily from the cow he got from Heifer International – Uganda. He sold the milk and raised the money to engage in other farming ventures.
He says when he had saved sh400,000, he bought a piece of land.  
“I started with 100 coffee plants and planted more as I got more money. I now have over 400 Arabica coffee plants,” Wandwasi says. 
He has also started growing an improved coffee breed known as catamal, which takes one year to mature and yield. 
“I have got 200 catamal coffee trees, which brings the total number of trees I have to 600,” Wandwasi says. 
He notes that coffee provides long-term benefits.  
“Coffee requires patience because it takes three or four years before it is ready for harvesting. A coffee tree produces its full yield after its sixth year,” Wandwasi says.
He adds that coffee continues prime production for about 10 years.
A coffee tree can grow to a height of between 16 and 40 feet, so it has to be kept at six feet to get the best yield and to make harvesting easier.
Wandwasi decided to try other farming activities because coffee takes long to mature.
He planted vanilla in the booming period of 2004 and made a huge profit. He used the profit to buy goats. He now has 20 goats. 
“I got an improved breed Boer goat which I crossed with the local breeds to improve the off-spring,” he says.  
In addition, Wandwasi has over eight acres of banana plantation. He, however, says he sometimes makes losses from the bananas because of lack of market. 
Wandwasi also has half an acre of cocoyams. He says cocoyams can withstand any weather conditions and take long to rot after harvesting.
“In 2000, the yams saved us after harsh weather scorched the other crops. That is why I plant more because I know their benefits,” Wandwasi says.
He also grows beans and maize. During a good season, Wandwasi says he harvests over 100 bags and earns about sh1.5m.
Special care for projects
Wandwasi says coffee grows well under a canopy of sun-filtering trees or tree shades. Therefore, he planted trees all over his coffee plantation. 
The leaves that fall off the trees mulch the soil, keeping it soft and nutrient-rich, controls weeds and minimises the need for fertilisers.
He keeps the goats in shelters raised off the ground. And since the goats like company, Wandwasi keeps more than one in each shed.
“Lonely goats may even refuse to feed,” he says. 
Wandwasi adds that he has a tall fence that protects the animals from strong winds, which ordinarily frighten goats and affects their ability to produce.
With bananas, Wandwasi clears the bushes around the plantation. He spaces the banana suckers 10 feet apart so that each gets enough sunlight. 
Like with any other farmer, Wandwasi’s bananas are affected by pests that include nematodes, which cause rotting and low bunch weight. 
The bananas are also affected by weevils, which, he says, are one of the factors leading to yield decline.
To control the weevils, he destroys the harvested corms and stems to deny the pests a breeding ground.
Wandwasi says his coffee is affected by fungal  and rotting coffee plant diseases that affect the yields.
He is also faced with a problem of lack of market and price fluctuations.
Wandwasi says he lacks storage facilities for his perishable products, which sometimes forces him to sell them at a give-away price. 
He also faces a problem of inadequate transportation facilities. Wandwasi says the feeder roads are in a poor state, making it costly to hire a truck to transport the produce to the market.
He is also faced with a problem of inadequate inputs, especially herbicides for treating his agricultural products because they are expensive.
Wandwasi has bought a coffee husk remover to ease work on his farm.
He has also constructed a permanent house and bought 20 acres of land.
Wandwasi has also educated his son to university level.
“This would not have been possible if I was not engaged in farming. I advise other parents to take on agriculture because the benefits are many,” Wandwasi says. 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Ministry worried about reducing fish stocks
The ministry embarks on rigorous sensitization of masses to help avert depletion of fish stocks in the various lakes....
Museveni tips soft-drink companies to use locally produced fruits
President Yoweri Museveni advises soft-drink companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to process locally produced fruits in order to cut down on some costs....
Kasese cult bans farming, destroys acres of crops
Acres of crops are destroyed in Kasese by a group suspected to belong to a religious cult that outlaws farming....
Expert says gov’t should prioritize agribusiness incubation
An agribusiness says government should consider prioritizing support towards building strong agribusiness incubation centres....
Semuto farmers pass bylaw on maize standards
The bylaw emphasizes proper drying of maize, harvesting mature crops and confiscation of immature produce found with producers or traders...
Government is to promote the growing of cassava to help substitute wheat and barley in manufacturing industries....
Should police arrest parents who do not take their children to school?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter