Former pilot finds millions in birds

Kuroiler UgaA former Ugandan pilot’s decision to turn to poultry farming has paid off with his 6700 birds now worth Ksh10million, a venture that has caught the youths’ eyes and turned him into a mentor who is leading a chicken rearing revolution.

Kiwanuka William having studied partly in Kenya began his career as an air controller at Wilson airport before relocating to Denmark, where he graduated as private pilot. Thereafter he secured a job as a private a job he held for four years. However after the dust of war settled in 1988 with Museveni coming to power, Kiwanuka too saw no reason of being abroad and came back to his mother land. “With my little savings I had accumulated I was optimistic that I could make it back home. In addition, I wanted to be part of the crème de la crème taking part in the reconstruction of Uganda,” explained Kiwanuka. On his return to Uganda, Kiwanuka had a quick change of tact and saw a better opportunity in electrical and electronics suppliers opening up an electronics store along Kampala road.

However, Kiwanuka soon realized that the business had little future and was full of misfortunes which he had no control over. “The business was doing well and as is always the case with any other entrepreneur, I always wanted to expand and restock it with the proceeds from it. Unfortunately, I had a very inhumane landlord. Any time the man came and witnessed some development and more stocking, he would then increase rent since those days, the long term rental agreement barely existed giving landlords powers to increase rates even monthly,” explained the father of five.

In 1998, Kiwanuka closed the electronic business and set his eyes on a very different and new frontier- poultry farming. “It was risky but I thought and still believe that every success is built from taking a risk. I began with 2000 layers which gave me about 1500 eggs per week,” he explained. During that period, Kiwanuka explained that layers were less profitable as a tray of eggs retailed at Ushs 1800.

Since he was doing farming from his family land in Mitayana a distance of about 60 kilometeres from the capital Kampala, he started experiencing market challenges. “I had to drive to Kampala weekly to supply the eggs and it was costly because I could only pocket about Ushs1.8million from the egg sales and then remain with a net profit of about Ushs400,000 after deduction of all the costs like feeds, transport among others.” In addition, his siblings started mismanaging his venture with birds and eggs being stolen.

In 2001, the veteran poultry farmer had now seen enough of the Mityana challenges and relocated his business from the village securing half an acre piece of land in Bujjuuko in the outskirts of Kampala to continue with poultry farming albeit in a more conducive and cost friendly environment. In order to accomplish this goal, he sold part of his land in Mitayana and used the proceeds plus some of his savings.

Currently, Kiwanuka is among the successful poultry model farmers who are mentoring youth into agribusiness. He has expanded his investment into a multimillion empire. He currently boasts of over 5000 layers, 1000 Kuroilers and about 700 quails. He also offers professional and expert advice to prospective farmers and youth groups. He has also procured three modern brooders with a capacity of over 10000 eggs and does brooding and hatchery of both Kuroiler and Quails. He estimates his current investment in poultry to be worth about UShs250-300 million.

The 63 year old pilot cum farmer has now mastered the art of cashing in on opportunities by offering ‘babysitting’ services for chicks. He explained, “I help many farmers rear their delicate one day old chicks of Kuroilers and Quails charging Ushs300 and 500 per day up to a period they feel they can handle. That stage is delicate and most farmers lose their chicks at this time and therefore since I have a wealth of experience I decided to offer the mitigating services.” In addition, he also buys Kuroiler eggs from other farmers he has mentored and hatches them and sells both one day old chicks and two weeks old to farmers and other organizations.

The former private pilot who also boasts of having a degree in Electrical Engineering from the coveted Danish Academy in Denmark challenges the current breed of graduates to embrace creativity and use their knowledge and skills in creating jobs. “There are so many young vibrant educated youths who still languish in poverty waiting for an opportunity to get the seemingly limited white collar jobs. These youths daily heap the blame on the government for not creating jobs and yet they shun the lucrative agribusiness ventures. I just implore them to try agribusiness and they should not fear to start small,” noted Kiwanuka. He further boasted, “I am learned than most of them but am here doing farming and even mentoring more youths into the practice. I am very comfortable and believe that I earn more than most people who are formally employed.”