Nyakaana’s one-acre agricultural model that pays off

In 2008, it was announced that President Museveni was going to visit Kabarole district. One of the activities planned for this visit was to interact with the farmers of one of the poorest villages at the time, Rwengaju, to see how they were surviving.

At the time, Richard Nyakaana was a youth adviser. He mobilized friends to go and listen to what the president had to say.

On May 16, 2008, the president presented himself at the commercial center of Kikyuna, four kilometers from the native village of Nyakaana. The women sold their produce at the Bwengonzi market and earned 15,000 shillings each, from one basket per farming season.

The farmer also planted cabbages and bananas. PHOTO/EDGAR R BAT

The president, after calculations, told the gathering that they could comfortably earn 20 million shillings and more in income and expenditure per year on a four-care model in their farming endeavors.

In conversation with markers, he showed them the possibilities if one planted an acre of coffee, another of fruit, another of pasture with zero dairy cow grazing and another of food crops for food security .

Turning for Nyakaana

Nyakaana, like many young people, began to wonder where and how to start. On the face of it, there was money to be made, and as such, revenue streams could improve.
In the village of Nyakaana, only the wealthy can own land in acres. On average, each wealthy person owns four acres. The average local resident is a smallholder. And Nyakaana is one of them. He owns only one acre of land.

How Nyakaana started
A week after the gathering, Nyakaana met 17 friends and they decided to start a savings and loans program, each contributing Shs 5,000 per month. They started the Sacco in August 2008.

By 2009 the number of members had increased to 25 and attendance had increased to Shs10,000 and Shs20,000.
In September of the same year, Nyakaana applied for a loan to start farming an acre with an interest in poultry and no pasture.

“I couldn’t get into the coffee or maize and Irish plantations. My land was small. I prepared a proposal to start a poultry project. I had already acquired 25 local birds with my daily savings,” he recalls.

Capital city
He applied for a loan of Shs3m as start-up capital. He had to convince the members because Sacco’s treasure had a total of Shs3.5m. He procured 200 birds, bought food and set up a structure of mud and acacia.

The project took off and the birds grew to 500, 1,000, 2,000 and they are currently 7,000.
There are three stages: The chic stage with around 1,000 birds, the wholesale stage with around 2,000 birds and the 4,000 layers.

Layers give the farmer 150 trays of eggs, each at Shs 9,000 on the farm. This translates to Shs1.35m per day.

“We get 15% profit on the gross income. We have the market because we supply a bakery, supermarkets in Fort Portal, the “rolex” (a snack consisting of fried eggs, chapatti with onions, cabbage and tomatoes) manufacturers and individuals,” explains Nyakaana. His projected plan is to have 10,000 birds by the end of 2022.

In 2014 he started a zero grazing unit with one cow which has since expanded to six cows.

“By the end of April, we will have 10 cows because we have finished expanding the structure to house more cattle. The six cows give us 116 liters a day. We can sell 100 liters every day, each liter costing Shs 1,000 at the farm. A bakery buys milk from us. On the contrary, there is a deficit because they are provided with less than they want. The beauty of cows is that they give you a 50% return on what you feed them. I would implore small farmers to go into livestock rather than agriculture,” the model one-acre farmer says of the income he earns from the no-graze dairy farming unit.

He feeds the cows silage, hay (dry grass) and fresh grass. Covered market on his farm for corn producers from whom he buys corn to transform it into silage that he packs.

Job creation
In one season, he buys 6 to 10 acres of corn. He employs 15 young people on his one-acre farm. If there were 10 or more farmers of Nyakaana capacity in the approximately 15,000 parishes in Uganda, there would be 2,225,000 jobs created.

“I commend the government for decentralizing the money to rural farmers through the parochial model as a means of increasing their income. If the parochial model is to fill the gaps, it must identify smallholder farmers who are progressive with ideas and committed to transforming themselves and society,” advises Nyakaana.

Nyakaana adds: “From my practical point of view, if the model is to produce results, a large part of the money should go to the purchase of equipment on the farm for the added value. There should be community sensitization as well as organization and zoning into productive areas according to the size of the landholding.

For him, a model house or village should have four pillars, namely housing improvement with a hygienic lifestyle to spend less on health, food security to spend on investment and development, household income which comes daily, monthly, seasonally and annually, and then onto -adding agricultural value and marketing for better returns from what the farmer produces.

“My commitment is to do a lot of outreach because the knowledge I received from the president and what I read, practice and expose should not (just) stay with me. Every week we do on-farm trainings. I call on the government to replicate such initiatives to enlighten people to understand and undertake agricultural initiatives that will work for them,” advises the farmer.

He lost his parents at age 13. Along with his siblings, they struggled to get an education let alone fend for themselves as adults.

Going into farming opened up his fortune to live a meaningful life.

Richard Nyakaana diversified by growing vegetables in his garden. PHOTO/EDGAR R BAT

Today, he is a model farmer who makes the best use of a one-acre piece of land to do the same and earn a generous income.

A week after the gathering, Richard Nyakaana met 17 friends and they decided to start a savings and loans program, each contributing Shs 5,000 per month.

They started the Sacco in August 2008.
By 2009, membership had grown to 25 members.

About Keneth T. Graves

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