Bitature transforming Ibanda through dairy farming
Whoever thought tycoons were confined to only white-collar jobs or administration had better drop the idea. Patrick Bitature, a prominent businessman in Uganda, has demystified such thinking and made Ibanda proud by establishing a remarkable dairy farm named Simba Dairy Farm.
Bitature an entrepreneur, is the founder and chairman of the Simba Group of Companies, an East African conglomerate, with interests in telecoms, energy production, mining, media, real estate, travel and hospitality, also started the 500k project to transform youth in Ibanda district.
500k is a community based project with special interest in educational initiative that aims at equipping 500,000 youth in Uganda with knowledge and skills in financial literacy as well as the attitudes and behaviour associated with successful entrepreneurship.
He is one of the few businessmen who have come out to participate and contribute to the country’s economy and agriculture.
Born in Fort Portal, Kabarole district and best known as city businessman where he has a three-star known as Protea Hotel, Bitature is not only bent to transform his home town Ibanda but also the entire district through his progressive farming, where his name Bitature has become such a household name.
Despite being pre-occupied with a busy schedule concerning his chain companies, Bitature finds time off to engage in farming, which he carries out on a 30-acre piece of land on which he has a huge number of exotic cows, mostly for study purposes. He also has a maize farm.
Bitature told Harvest Money that with keeping cattle taking a centre-stage in his life, he started farming on a small-scale with a few head of cattle before venturing into mixed farming.
“It was hard to start, but with determination, I did not hesitate and I ventured into mixed farming,” he said.
Bitarure says exotic cows are delicate animals as they are normally attacked by flies and pests. In order to properly look after them, they spray them regularly in order to rid them of the pests.
Currently, Bitature keeps over 350 Friesian hybrid cows and Ayrshires in addition to maize farming. But his target is to get more Friesians.
On expanding and modernising his dairy farm Bitature says: “I started this dairy farming for commercial reasons and more importantly, to help others do it better because this is more of a model farm. It will help my neighbourhood to not only become better dairy farmers, but also make more money for themselves,” Bitature explained during our tour to his farm.
He adds that each of his cows produces between 35 and 45 litres of milk daily. However, he says whereas he earns some good money, prices of milk fluctuate a lot.
Bitature also sells hybrid bulls to his rural folks, and apart from selling at reasonable prices, he also accepts payment in installments. The bulls are on high demand, and indeed people from far and wide flock his farm in search of these superior breeds for purposes of improving their herds.
He says Simba Dairy Farm is well-positioned for success because of a proven track record in successfully incubating new businesses.
He employs over 30 people, most of whom are his villagemates. However, Bitature says, the start was not easy. He persevered, imrpved the pasture, acquired other animals and more land, which he has eventually developed into a modern farm.
Bitature is proud to see that his community has benefitted from his project by getting jobs and their families having stable income.
He says during the busy maize planting season, he employs more workers. He uses the cow dung as manure for his maize fields.
The dairy farm
Bitature sells a litre of milk at sh700, the traders pick the milk directly from his farm at Ibanda. He employs about 300 people on his farms and during harvesting time the number goes even much higher.
Simba Farms currently operates two large farms, one in Gulu, and the other in Ibanda. In Ibanda, we are focusing on a fledgling outgrower scheme. Our farm in Ibanda focuses on dairy farming.
The 500k project
“Project 500k empowers youth to take ownership of their own livelihood wellness and become agents of positive development in their communities,” he said.
John Bosco Bakyenga, the 500k project coordinator, says they are 450 members and some there in schools, university and villages.
“500k is a youth empowerment and entrepreneurship programme. The program now pivoted towards a new pilot researching investment opportunities in productive assets,” he said.
The project aims at empowering 500,000 Ugandan youth to be employable or run successful businesses, by changing their mindset and building their skills.
Bitature says project 500K is set to be rolled out countrywide.
“No shortcut for wealth, success is in working hard. It is important to remember that you can’t keep taking from the earth. You have got to give back. Mix lime and manure into the soil to give it nutrients. Simple things. It seems the people who are taking up farming using modern methods are really doing well, and I am so glad to be joined by our Archbishops and other religious and policy leaders to see what is possible here in Uganda,” he says.
Hosting religious leaders
“It is privilege and honour to host religious people to tour my farm. We thank President Yoweri Museveni who organised this trip for choosing Simba Farm in the western region to host religious leaders with the purpose of partnership with the state to fight poverty eradication,” Bitature said at the sidelines of the tour by religious at Simba Farm in Ibanda.
What youth say?
Ruhanga Asiimwe: Simba Farm has totally transformed our society within a decade. We are proud of Bitature.
Timothy Katakweba, a graduate of Mbarara University of Science and Technology: I am one of beneficiaries of 500k project. After I received the raining, I started a stationery shop in Ibanda town. We also received leadership training.
Peace Olivia: I am a professional counsellor, but through the 500k project, I have had a positive mindset change. I am now supplying vegetables (dodo) in hotels around Ibanda.