Ikanga retired into policing his lucrative mixed farm: Part 2
Zubair Ikanga is a former policeman who retired in 1979 after the overthrow of Idi Amin. Today, he has over 40 hybrid cows, 2,000 layer chicken, goats and a fish pond. In this part of his profile, we look at more at how he runs his projects on Ikamu Farm.
Good farming practices
Ikanga explains that he is able to make maximum use of the cow urine and dung produced by the farm animals.
“The urine is trapped and used as pesticide on the coffee stems as well as on banana stems. It is a natural way of keeping off common pests,” he says.
He adds that the cow dung is used to operate a biogas facility installed adjacent to the farm house.
“The gas produced is used in alternative lighting when we have no electricity. It also helps in cooking food by way of gas stoves installed in the kitchen,” Ikanga explains.
The biogas facility at Ikanga’s farm
Ikanga says lack of space has affected expansion plans for the farm.
The animals do not have enough grass to eat due to lack of space, so he sells some of them off regularly.
The farm also has goats, mainly hybrids.
Ikanga says he is trying out goat-keeping to see how profitable it can be.
However, he has problems transporting grass to feed the livestock.
“I rent land and grow elephant grass for the animals, but transporting it to the farm is a challenge,” he says.
When bird flu attacked poultry across the world in 2004, Ikanga branched into fish farming soon afterwards.
“I feared that my chicken would die so I planned for a fallback position,” he says.
Ikanga says he hired labour at sh1m to dig up three fish ponds at the swampy section of the farmland in 2008.
“The first pond measures 50m x 20ms, the second is 10m x 30m, while the third is 10m x 10m. All of them have a sloping depth from 3ft to 4ft at the deepest end which eases drainage of the ponds,” he says.
Ikanga explains that with proceeds from banana sales, he bought 10,000 fish fry of the catfish trait from Sunfish Company in Jinja at sh100 each.
“These were placed in locally assembled cages made at sh500,000 and inserted in the ponds. The idea is to prevent losses since catfish burrows in the mud and can’t all be trapped during harvest,” he says.
Ikanga adds that presently, the ponds have a population of 6,000 tilapia species from which he makes one annual harvest.
“I spend over sh8m on fish pellet purchases and labour at the ponds per year. From the harvest, I earn about sh24m, leaving me with a net profit of approximately sh16m,” he says.
Ikanga explains that the fish consume 30kg of pellets per week and since each kilogram is at sh3,500, this means usage of sh105,000 every week.
Apart from livestock, the farm has a two-acre mango orchard. Ikanga says the orchard earns him over sh10m every year with a net profit of sh8m.
The family also grows maize on five acres.
“We harvest several sacks, some of which we sell to schools in the area,” Mwajuma Ikanga says.
She adds that the family makes a profit of about sh1m from the seasonal sales since some is stored for domestic use.
Ikanga explains that the farm is partly located on marshland that gives a natural supply of water from seasonal streams.
“I trap some of this water by way of barriers or dams. This reservoir comes in handy during dry spells,” he says.
He appreciates President Museveni for having boosted the water supply by donating a borehole to the farm in 2008.
“Nowadays, I use hose pipes to deliver water to crop gardens during the dry season. The borehole also provides safe drinking water to farm workers,” he says.
Ikanga notes that the involvement of his wife and family members guarantees the existence of the farm enterprise long after he is gone.
Zaid Mugoya, the son, testifies that his father keeps training them in the day-to-day running of the farm venture.
“Nobody is left out during the trainings. I am sure any of the children can manage if dad is not with us anymore,” Mugoya says.
Ikamu Farm may belong to the Ikanga family, but its multiplier effect goes beyond the boundaries of the home. According to Ikanga, many people come to learn from the farm free of charge.
“I also provide employment to many people, both directly and indirectly,” he says. Some are workers on the farm, while others sell his products such as eggs.
At the moment, he is planning to expand it further, by hiring more land.
Abdullah Waiswa, a farm worker, says there are 13 permanent workers at the premises.
“Three of us work in the dairy section; two are askaris, another three at the poultry, while five are gardeners. Each one of us walks home with sh100, 000 in wages every month,” Waiswa says.
Success in agriculture is possible
Ikanga believe success in farming is possible and he attributes this to hard work and being focused.
“I always supervise my workers, to make sure there is proper accountability,” he says. He says keeping proper records has helped him to keep track of transactions.
From three acres to 35, from 200 chicken to 2,000 and from one local cow to 40 hybrids, Ikanga’s journey is worth learning from.
Ikanga spreads out rice to dry in the sun
Advice for other farmers
Ikanga advises farmers to embrace more than one venture so as to avoid failure and maximise profits at the end of the day.
“Usually when one venture is not performing well, it can be boosted by another one doing well. So, the farmer can be assured always of a general profitable yield,” he says.
He encourages farmers to indulge in value addition so as to earn more from their farm produce.
Ikanga has plans of establishing a fish fry hatchery plus a fish pellet making facility at location so as to be a supplier to local and regional fish farmers.
He equally would love to have a milk cooler on location so as to be able to add value to his milk product.
“These are the plans I shared with President Museveni and he pledged to help. Already the electricity he promised has been linked to the farm as we await the other part of the presidential pledge,” he says.