SAMUEL Sabila was a poor man. The 46-yearold father of three was living in abject poverty and could not dream of ever building a house or getting a wife. Friends and foes alike despised him for staying with his mother at that age. â€œThey branded me a man
SAMUEL Sabila was a poor man. The 46-yearold father of three was living in abject poverty and could not dream of ever building a house or getting a wife. Friends and foes alike despised him for staying with his mother at that age. â€œThey branded me a man of no ideas.
Everybody never wanted to associate with me,â€ he says. At one time, frustrated by life, he attempted to commit suicide. Today, he has become one of the richest people in his village, with a semi-permanent house, goats and a farm, thanks to the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme.
The programme was extended to his village in 2005 to equip farmers with technical skills about modern farming. Sabilaâ€™s village, Rorok, in Bukwo district in eastern Uganda was chosen as the first on a pilot project. The Rorok farmers were asked to organise themselves in groups and choose a project.
â€œAfter several negotiations we held and among ourselves in the village, we formed a group comprising 10 farmers,â€ Sabila says. In Rorok, many farmers had ventured into maize cultivation, but discouraged by the high costs of maize production, Sabila and his group, Taabanda Womenâ€™s Group (TWG) decided on an exotic he-goat project to improve on the local breeds.
The Rorok farmers reached this conclusion after realising they had poor breeds of local goats. Each goat cost only sh20, 000. â€œWe saw that the hybrid would improve on local breeds and make our lives better.
We finally agreed and NAADS gave us the he-goat,â€ said Helen, Sabilaâ€™s wife and chairperson of the group. Back in the village, the Rorok farmers worked out a plan on how the he-goat will bring returns.
â€œWe realised that it was hard to benefit directly as individuals from this venture. We, therefore, sought out a mechanism of letting other farmers hire the hegoat so it could mate with their she-goats. â€œA farmer had to pay sh10,000 or a cock or two hens.
The first week saw 15 farmers hiring the he-goat,â€ said Suzan Kibet. Kibet said initially, it was trial and error, but the turn of events have since dazzled the group and now their incomes have improved. They boast of crossbreed goats that they are able to sell at a higher price and the village is effectively fighting poverty.
The he-goat nicknamed â€˜mariatete,â€™ meaning, â€˜The Kingâ€™, has fathered 500 offsprings and turned around the fortunes of the formerly poor Rorok villages. â€œWe sold the chicken and acquired local she-goats,â€ said Faustus Mukwana, the local council chairman of Suam sub-county and a member of the group.
â€œI got 10 offprings and had to sell them. Because they were improved breeds, I sold each at sh80, 000, four times more than what we used to get from purely local breeds,â€ he adds. â€œI later acquired three bulls which I used to pay for my dowry.
I invested the rest of the cash into construction of an iron roof house and now the community respects me,â€ he said. The group has been able to earn more than sh10 million from the lone hegoat. The breeds of goats in the entire Suam subcounty have improved and fetch high yields of milk.
â€œI now get 3 litres of milk from the cross-bred goat. Before that I used to get nothing,â€ said Fred Musengwa, Treasurer of the group. The enthusiasm Sabila and his group had for improving local breeds earned them further support from NAADS which is now training and giving the farmers better farming techniques.
NAADS has also rewarded the Rorok farmers by giving them another project of Irish potato growing. â€œSupport from NAADS has come through provision of veterinary services like drugs and availing us with information about the market.
The biggest market for our products is across Kenya,â€ Helen adds. She says NAADS has taught them how to make high raised shelters like small houses or huts so that they can collect the goatâ€™s drops and use it as farm yard manure in their gardens.
Franklin Kitiyo, NAADS Bukwo coordinator said since then, farmers in all the four sub-counties have been given 29 he-goats, after success in Rorok. â€œThe Rorok farmers demonstrated to the rest that the project cannot only be profitable, but also help in overcoming poverty.
We have provided 350 she-goats,â€ Kitiyo said. Bukwo district with a population of 65,000 people now has 500 farmer groups each consisting of 10 farmers. Despite the success, the farmers are experiencing some challenges.
Helen says they still face a problem of efficient management of the project and proper market information. â€œWe need to be trained more on how to manage exotic breeds. It requires a lot of effort like fencing them in an enclosure and yet the farmers deep on free range system,â€ she said.
â€œWe need to access other markets in Kampala. But because of the poor road, we are unable to transport the products there.â€ These same sentiments are also echoed by Mukwana, one of the
prominent farmers who owns about 2000 goats.
â€œThe exotic breeds need special feeds, which are lacking because they are very expensive to process. We have our own maize, but lack a mill to crush them for consumption,â€ he adds.
Kitiyo says the Government rewarded the district for good performance and increased the NAADS budget to the district from sh267 million to sh408 million. â€œWe shall address the challenge by purchasing our own mill to crush the feeds.
However in the meantime, we have taught farmers to grow special grass in the backyards,â€ he explained. Grass, in Kibetâ€™s garden, is flourishing. She uses it to feed her goats and cattle. â€œI also sell some to other farmers.
I have been able to use this supplementary money to purchase sugar and salt,â€ she says. â€œLife has become better in our village. We thank the Government and request them to give us more. This way we shall eradicate
Name of group: Taabanda Womenâ€™s group
Location of farm: Rorok village, Suam sub-county, Bukwo district
District from city: About 500kms
Enterprises:Over 400 cross bred goats and 40 acres of irish potatoes
How they started: NAADS gave them he-goat that they used for mating local breeds
How they sold first produce: Each goat was sold at sh80,000 across the Kenyan border
Contact of group:
Hybrid he-goat creates wealth for Bukwo district