ZOMBO. In 1997 while at a school in Kampala, Mr Paul Gingiera watched President Yoweri Museveni on television as he delivered the Independence Day speech.
The president devoted time to talk about what he called the four acre solution to land fragmentation. He advised that household with as little as 4 acres should spare an acre for pasture, another acre for housing while raring pigs and chicken in the back yard.
It was a speech that bore profound impact on Gingiera whose family was faced with adverse effects of land fragmentation that each family member could barely afford to inherit an acre piece of land.
When he finished A’ level, Gingiera thought about practicing what the president had emphasised as a way of creating job for himself and for other people, yet his piece of land was less than what Museveni had talked about.
He decided to visit a farm run by an old woman in Kampala from where Gingiera learnt how to rare pigs on a small space. But he had no capital to start with. But when president Museveni returned to Zombo district to launch Nyagak hydro power, he repeated that old four acre message. This pushed Gingiera to finally get going.
Gingiera erected a small wooden kiosk enough to hold four pigs but he had no capital to start with. He had to borrow sh300,000 from his brother which he used to buy four piglets and set off with farming.
That marked Gingiera's modest entry into commercial farming in 2013. He looked after the pigs and after furrowing, he sold off the piglets and immediately embarked on expanding his farm.
He acquired timber offcuts at sh400,000 a lorry and some poles that he used to put up a storied shelter. He used the lower section to keep pigs while the upper section was for poultry.
That section only took 18m x 12m of his land that is approximately an acre large. On what would ideally be the home compound, Gingiera set up a nursery bed for seedlings. When the seedlings are sold, they leave space for passion fruits and tomatoes.
In 2015, he decided to register his farm as Shida na Kazi Farm so as to make business transactions easy.
It is now five years since Gingiera has practiced farming on that small piece of land and the results have been impressive. He has expanded to add diary farming on top of the poultry, piggery, agroforestry and horticulture.
He also offers consultancy services and internships for students. This year, Gingiera received 83 internship students, some of them coming from as far as Kayunga Centenary College. There were also students from the refugee camps who visited the farm on a learning tour.
Gingiera's market base depends mostly on Nongovernmental organisations and government institutions. Last year he sold seedlings worth sh19.6m to the National Agricultural Research Organisation.
He also sold 155 piglets worth sh58m to Agency for Accelerated Regional Development which were distributed to youth groups in Nebbi, Zombo and Maracha districts.
He sold other piglets mostly Cambarough and Landrace to Congolese customers. Meanwhile the Community Empowerment for Rural Development, a local civil society organisation purchased Kroiler chicken from Gingiera worth sh60m. More cash was made from sale of eggs.
Currently Gingiera has 1000 layers that were imported from Kenya, he has 24 pigs for brooding, a diary cow, 150,000 pine seedlings as well as eucalyptus seedlings.
“I use my compound to make more than sh100m in year. What would I get if I had planted flowers? This means if farmers utilise the space they have for commercial farming, we would move far,” Gingiera says.
Gingiera’s farm is fenced to keep off intruders and also as a biosafety measure. This is meant to keep off stray birds and animals that could bring disease to the farm. He does not allow anybody to access the animal section unless that person has stepped in a disinfectant.
There are two watchmen employed to guard the premises both day and at night. He employs seven permanent staff to run day-to-day activities and up to 70 casual workers during potting and harvest season.
The farming activities are integrated to support each other. For instance the droppings from the poultry and piggery unit are buried in a pit for three months and then excavated to provide manure for the agroforestry section and the horticulture business.
He mixes his own feeds so as to reduce costs of ready made feeds and also to make sure all the right ingredients are fed to the animals and chicken.
Gingiera calls his residence posh. He says it only took him three months to build the house after receiving a windfall of cash from piglets sold to AFARD.
He pays about sh4m each term as school fees for the children and he has acquired a taxi and a minibus that are offering transport services in Paidha town.
Gingiera wants to erect a bigger three storied shelter next year where by the lower chamber will be for pigs and the two upper chambers will be for poultry.
He is planning to construct a farmers' resource centre for conducting more robust trainings for people interested in commercial farming.
It is in view of this grand plan that he is seeking support from the government and NGO that share his vision to help put up the structure.
“We can provide the facilitators. What we are lacking is accommodation but I have acquired additional 1.5 acres of land for that project,” he said