The cows are mowing as they are brought in for the evening milking. The milking parlor, constructed mainly using timber and iron sheets is located near the calf house and the farm office.
Among the people who are taking on the milking are tourists who are visiting the farm purposely to experience the act of milking. The farm, located 12km from Mbarara on the Isingiro road, in Masha, Isingiro district, belongs to Betty Mbaziira Kasabiti. The farm sits on over 70 acres with nearly 100 cattle. The farm structures are well laid out, with supportive access roads cutting through. These include the grazing area, the water dams, the milking parlour, a farm office, a yoghurt processing unit, the main farm house, stores, calf house. There are also over 3acres of bananas.
Improved water system
Some of the unmistakable farm structures is a yoghurt processing plant. In front of the yoghurt processing factory is a huge water tank, obviously to improve water storage and usage on the farm. “This is a recent addition, Mbazira says.
When she emerged overall winner of the best farmer`s competition in 2018, she got a cash prize of sh50m. She used part of the money to set up this water system.
“Before then, we used to draw water from dams, she dug on the farm, located about 200metres from the main structures. With the prize money, we constructed this water tank, bought stronger pumps that push the water through a pipe system around the farm,” she says. The new water system reduced on the cost of labour at the farm since they no longer carry water in jerrycans to the drinking points and improved access to water by the cows.
Mbazira emerged the best overall farmer during the 2018 Uganda’s Best Farmer’s competition. The competition, has so far awarded seven cohorts. It is done by Vision Group, with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands, dfcu Bank, KLM Airlines and Koudijs Nutrition BV.
In 2019, she travelled to the Netherlands on a learning tour.
The Netherlands is one of the most advanced countries in as far as farming systems are concerned.
“The country is the second leading exporter of farm produce in the world, after the United States,” Josephat Byaruhanga, the senior agriculture policy officer at the embassy of the Netherlands says.
Beyond exporting produce, the country has also got strong agriculture-related enabling systems, including farm management, financing, hygiene practices and breed management, among others. These are some of the aspects that the best farmers learn when they visit the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands, people visiting farms and learning is part of the agriculture system. This is what Mbaziira picked out.
“When I visited the Netherlands in 2019, I learnt that agri-tourism is part of many farmers’ practices,” she says. So, when she returned, she started expanding her farm to include places where visitors could sit while learning about dairy farming. Her farm now has cottages where visitors can spend a night or more as they take part in farm activities. These were constructed between 2020 and 2021, using savings from the farm. She trains the visitors for a few.