A constant squawk of ducks startles to fill the home as stocky 52-year-old Zachariah Bashir wearing an Islamic cap stares in amazement.
Days-old ducklings spread around like lilies, colorfully decorating the compound as they scavenge for anything to feed on. Some of them crouch over food refuse filled in water in a broken piece of pot.
The entertaining view of the cute ducklings is breathtaking but it also sums up the ultimate stage that the P.5 dropout’s 36-year resilience in raring ducks has attained.
How he started
Mr Bashir was a volunteer soldier during late former President Idi Amin’s regime and he resorted to raring ducks after returning from exile.
This resident of Maracha town ventured into raring ducks largely considered as dirty birds by members of his community in 1982.
His desire was simply to keep at home something other than chicken. For starting, he offered his paternal uncle a cock in exchange for a female duck.
He relied on his uncle’s drake to mate with the duck and when it laid 12 eggs, hatching 10 of them Mr Bashir was excited.
When the ten ducklings survived and matured Mr Bashir ate some of them, sold others and left one more duck and a drake to regenerate.
He cushioned a slant inside perforated clay pots with saw dust and sacks to accommodate over twenty eggs for one duck to hatch successfully.
He continued increasing the brood stock of ducks but it was in 1995 that he appreciated the magic in duck farming.
By this time Mr Bashir had six ducks which multiplied to over 100 ducks at once with each mother duck laying between 15 and 20 eggs.
This challenged his mind to find the best way to raise ducklings with minimum fatalities to mint money.
Caring for ducks
Mr Bashir says the most important care for the duckling is to reduce conduct with water on cold days. As such he restrains the newly hatched ducklings indoors for three days.
When he finally releases them to go outside, he ties the mother duck in one place so that the ducklings only rove around her and are therefore not exposed to predators.
He gives water in shallow tray or water trough before giving any food mainly polished rice for the ducklings.
For those birds mature enough to swim in rain water, he spreads food on the ground so that they can eat both what he provides and emerging living organism from the soil like earthworms.
Mr Bashir spends less on feeding of the birds because he collects plenty of leftover food from the numerous food joints in the town supplemented by food refuse collected by cleaners in Maracha main produce market which he buys at a reduced cost.
He says the leftover food from the hotels is sorted to avoid feeding the birds with red pepper which reduces their appetite to eat that can lead to their death.
His vast experience in raising ducks has made him to become a consultant in the area for the people who want to set similar enterprise.
Mr Bashir says business in ducks is good. He sells a pair of mature ducks at a rate of sh40,000 and retains 10 ducks and two drakes to produce 200 more ducklings.
He calculates that he earns at least sh10m gross from selling ducks annually.
He employs several youths in the town council as middlemen to earn commission by selling his mature ducks in Maracha livestock market to customers from Yumbe, Koboko and Arua districts and Congolese mainly from Duruba town.
Mr Bashir’s first notable achievement came in October 1995 when he mobilised 30 people with support from his brother in-law and slaughtered some of the ducks for them to eat while communally digging two acres of land for farming different crops.
He generated over three million shillings from the produce from the field out of which he established a wholesale shop in Koboko town for sugar and salt.
The shop in Koboko has since generated a profit of over sh10m saved in the bank and his son managing the wholesale shop has acquired a motorcycle to facilitate operation of the business.
He bought some heads of cattle and acquired 100 acres of land in Kochi sub-county in Yumbe district in which he is planning to establish modern mixed farm.
The few herds of cattle have multiplied up to over 50 which he plans to relocate in his new acquired land in Yumbe because of the land shortage in Maracha district.
Mr Bashir has a big dream to emulate the legacy left by Madhivani family by establishing enterprises that may earn eternal wealth for his descendants.
He wants to acquire a vehicle to transport laborers and inputs to his new farmland in Yumbe district close to the border with South Sudan.
He also plans to build a decent house and fence an area of 200 metres in the backyard to prevent that ducks from straying into the trading centre.
He believes that by restricting the movement of the ducks, he would increase the number of brood ducks from 10 to 50, then start supplying the hotels and markets in the region with duck eggs since the roads are good.