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Manafwa parish priest ventures into chicken and banana farming

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th March 2010 03:00 AM

Priests have very tight schedules ranging from performing masses, hearing confessions, advising the believers, participating in baptisms to praying for themselves and others.

Priests have very tight schedules ranging from performing masses, hearing confessions, advising the believers, participating in baptisms to praying for themselves and others.

BY RONALD KALYANGO

Priests have very tight schedules ranging from performing masses, hearing confessions, advising the believers, participating in baptisms to praying for themselves and others.

Despite this, Father Dominic Mubi, the parish priest of Magale in Manafwa district, has decided to add farming to the list of his activities in the parish.

The priest, who was transferred to Manafwa district in 2007, says he decided to venture into farming to teach his ‘flock’ modern ways of practicing agriculture.

“I am not doing this as a business, I just want to demonstrate to the farmers in this area how to practice modern farming on a small piece of land,” he explained.

On his farm, he has healthy layer birds which he acquired from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme late last year.

“They gave me 200 birds together with five bags of feeds,” he told Members of parliament who sit on the agriculture committee.

They had visited him as part of a field tour of the NAADS programme in the district.

He said after realising that the poultry business was doing well, he bought 200 broilers which he sells off at between sh7,000 to sh8,000 depending on the size.

With the good expertise in poultry keeping, he also constructed a smaller poultry unit which he later stocked with 94 exotic roosters from Soroti district at sh700 each. He has now raised them for five months and plans to sell them at sh15,000 each.

“I will sell them to interested farmers who want to improve on their indigenous breeds,” explained the priest.

The exotic roosters increase meat and egg productivity of indigenous chickens and improve the economic and nutritional status of the rural households. National Agriculture Research Organisation scientists at the Soroti based institute say the exotic roosters were introduced following the low productivity of meat and eggs of the indigenous chickens in the region.

There were two challenges: the inherently low genetic potential for those traits and the high mortalities due to new castle disease amongst the local breeds.

Father Mubi was also a beneficiary of 300 banana suckers of the Mpologoma variety from the NAADS programme.

The priest has a nice looking banana plantation behind his house. “I planted them on one and half acres of land,” he said.

During the first harvest last year, he harvested five bunches of bananas and to his surprise, the first bunch weighed 43kg. He harvested a bigger bunch which weighed 52kg.

“I was so happy to harvest a bunch which was heavier than a bag of cement,” he explained. However, parts of his banana suckers were destroyed by a heavy downpour in February this year, he informed MPs.

Father Mubi hopes to harvest about 50 banana bunches per month and intends to share them with the parish. If he was to sell them, they would go for between sh10,000 and sh20,000.

“Bananas are good and quite paying, we entirely use local materials like chicken droppings to add manure in the garden,” he explained.

He says it is the layer chickens which are tasking to raise, as they need regular monitoring and feeding.

“I would not advise a poor farmer to take on layer chicks as they need regular monitoring and a lot of care,” he explained.

The district NAADS coordinator, Patrick Natanga, informed the legislators that the district has so far received over sh4b and the money had been used to establish 3,717 farmers groups. In the previous financial year alone, Natanga said they procured and distributed 249,108 coffee seedlings, 76,126 banana suckers, 36,926kg of groundnuts and established 216 acres of horticulture.

They also distributed 31,069 poultry birds, 675 pigs, 80 bee hives, 2,070kg of maize seed, 130 bags of cassava cuttings, constructed 25 goat houses and distributed 50 dairy cows.

Natanga noted that although there are problems with the NAADS co-funding obligations in other districts, co-funding by the farmers in Manafwa is so far the best in the whole country.

By the end of last financial year, Manafwa farmers had co-funded up to 337.5%, the sub-counties co-funded up to 100%, while the district contributed up to 90.3%.

“The high level of co-funding is a sign that farmers are interested and committed to the programme and expect a lot from it,” said Florence Kabugo, the enterprise development manager at the NAADS secretariat.

Natanga also informed the legislators that 20 model farmers had been identified by the different farmer forums and received inputs ranging from sh800,000 to sh1.4m depending on the viability of their enterprises.

He said there are also several success stories in the district ranging from Buwangota Sismukha youth group, which has increased the productivity and profitability of tomatoes, onions and cabbages as a result of the NAADS intervention.

Today, they can produce during the dry season because of a treadle pump which was provided to them by the programme.

They have started savings and credit programme and are collectively marketing their vegetables.

He said they get a net profit of sh1.2m from an acre and they have so far planted 40 acres of tomatoes this season.

Natanga also noted that productivity of groundnuts in Sibanga sub-county had also increased from four bags in an acre to about 10 bags of 40kg each.

Coffee farmers have also emerged in Bumwoni sub-county with the best managed plantations yielding about 4kgs per tree.

Fact file
Name: Father Dominic Mubi
Location: Mugale village, Manafwa
Enterprises: Layer and broiler chicks, exotic roosters and bananas.
Contact: 0772- 497-116

Manafwa parish priest ventures into chicken and banana farming

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