When you find her mixing feeds and cleaning the pigsty, you can easily mistake Bonnie Mutungi for an ordinary village woman.
By Francis Kagolo
When you find her mixing feeds and cleaning the pigsty, you can easily mistake her for an ordinary village woman.
Of course, not may corporate ladies would do what she does, for pigs are presumed to be the dirtiest domestic animals. Yet it is this ‘dirty’ animal that has given Bonnie Mutungi a new hope for prosperity.
“I have since disregarded the saying that pigs are dirty,” says the jovial mother of three. “To me this is a good source of income that supplements my salary and sustains my family.”
In the past three years, Mutungi has managed to accumulate over 150 pigs, though she keeps selling some over time. Currently she has 14 mature pigs and 60 piglets, mainly of the large white breed.
She also owns a three-acre banana plantation, and grows maize and sweet potatoes on the five-acre piece of land located in Buntaba village, Mukono district.
Until August last year, Mutungi’s poultry unit had over 1,500 layers, which produced between 100 and 180 trays of eggs per week. She sold off all the birds and is planning to restock.
Mutungi is a programmes officer at the Development Network for Voluntary Associations. She has registered a company, Gerabo Ltd, which supplies the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) with piglets.
How the farm has evolved
“It all began like a dream,” she says. “Using the money I had saved overtime plus my husband’s contribution, I bought five acres of land at sh2.5m each in 2006.”
But even after acquiring the land, she was reluctant to go into serious farming. It was not until 2008 that she started growing green chili for export, mainly to Europe.
“The market for green chili was available yet the supply was insufficient. We used to sell a kilogram at sh2,500; it was profitable,” she recalls.
But the credit crunch that hit Europe in early 2009 forced her to drop green chili after the price dropped to below sh1,000 per kilogramme.
However, having tested the financial benefits of farming, the setback did not deter Mutungi. In fact, now convinced that agriculture is a treasure, she even became more determined.
“I expanded the banana plantation, which I had found on the land from half an acre to three acres,”Mutungi says.
The proceeds from matooke are enough to pay her three permanent workers and the casual labourers. She also planted the rest of the land with maize, beans, cassava and sweet potatoes, which she still grows.
She then bought 500 day-old layers from Ugachick at sh1,300 each.
“Poultry gives daily income,” she says.
Thus, she kept on increasing the number until she had 1,500 before selling all of them last year. To launch the piggery unit, Mutungi bought a pregnant (gestating) sow from Harambe Farm in Namugongo, Wakiso district, which delivered 10 piglets after three months.
She did not sell any of the piglets and by 2010 she had 10 sows of producing age, a boar and a number of piglets.
To cut on the initial costs, Mutungi constructed a timber wall and papyrus-roofed sty. After realising some profits, she has now began putting up a semi-permanent brick and iron sheets one.
Since 2010, Mutungi has been selling two-month-old piglets between sh70,000 and sh80,000 each. Last year, she sold 107 piglets. She also sells pork to local butchers in Mukono and takes the rest to Wambizzi in Nalukolongo, Kampala, where a kilogram goes for sh6,000 currently, up from last year’s sh4,000.
Recently, she joined the Pre-Urban Pig Farmers’ Association (PUPIFA) through which she found new market at Quality Cuts, which buys pork at sh7,000 a kilogram.
She has been ploughing a big percentage of the profits back into the farm and is planning to continue doing so until it expands to the level of employing all her family members.
To achieve this, Mutungi is planning to buy more land to expand the farm and set up a maize milling machine as well as establishing a mini slaughter house for pigs. Her focus is on breeding for farmers.
Mutungi attributes her success to practising mixed farming, which involves having both crops and animals on the farm.
Under such an arrangement, she says, each unit can benefit the other. For instance, she mixes dried chicken droppings with maize bran to feed the pigs while the pigs’ droppings and their urine is used as fertiliser in the banana plantation.
And when feed prices shoot up, sweet potato vines are available on the farm to supplement the pigs’ maize bran.
She also sells piglets at two months so that she does not have to incur more costs of feeding, the most challenging aspect in piggery. She sells the piglets between sh70,000 and sh80,000 each to NAADS and individual farmers.
Due to the success of her farm, Mutungi has since been named the NAADS model farmer at the village. She constructed a 10,000 litre underground water tank at sh2m and bought another one at sh800,000. The tanks guarantee a constant water supply on the farm.
Mutungi says the seasonal fluctuation in feed prices has affected her business enormously. In 2011 when the price of maize bran reached sh1,000 per kilogramme, her poultry business became so unprofitable that she had only one option — to sell off all the birds.
In July 2011, her pigs were attacked by a disease that left about 50 piglets dead. However, Mutungi says her efforts are not deterred by such setbacks, which she treats as a learning point. She says farming has minimised on luxury because she invests every penny she gets.
“On weekends when other people are spending money in clubs, bars, saunas and other outings, I spend mine on productive work. Even if my job ended today, I would be assured of pleasant retirement,” Mutungi says.
Piggery has given me hope for prosperity