Last Saturday, the deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda, Joris Van Bommel, toured Netherlands-funded projects. The projects are sponsored by SNV-a Netherlands Development Foundation in Kiruhura district.
Bommel, who is also the head of Development Co-operation and Economic Affairs at the embassy, together with a team of experts in the dairy sub-sector, first visited Col Dick Bugingo, the director of AGDI Dairy Farm. Bugingo was also the best farmer (western) for 2014.
The Best Farmers Competition is organised by Vision Group and supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands, dfcu Bank, KLM Airlines and Koudjis Nutrition BV. Bommel was amazed by the progress made by Bugingo, who started farming about 10 years ago.
“I am impressed by what I have seen. I am proud of what you have achieved. We are seeing how things are done and how the community around you has adopted,” Bommel said.
Bugingo has 300 dairy cattle with a milk production capacity of at least 600 litres per day. The team toured the farm, that has paddocks which are welldemarcated having sections for grazing and hay production. They also toured gardens where maize and soya are grown.
The crops are primarily grown to supplement the feeding needs of the animals. One acre of a banana plantation has also been set up to meet his family and workers feeding need. He employs mainly youth. Bommel challenged the youth to join the farming sector, saying it has many opportunities.
“It is about mindset for the youth to see farming as business. We would love to see more of them in farming and we shall keep partnering with the farmers,” Bommel said.
He wound up his tour at Bugingo’s farm by launching a milking parlour. He challenged Ugandan farmers to milk the big potential of the agriculture sector.
“There is a lot of potential in the agriculture sector. I am happy that the agriculture entrepreneurship is growing in this country. All we need is more partnerships and finding solutions together,” Bommel said.
“I started with a milking parlour with a capacity of only five cows, but we have built a new one that can accommodate up to 24 animals,” Bugingo said.
The new milking parlour is spacious and hygienic and ensures safety to both the animals and the personnel. With the improved milking process and handling, Bugingo plans to start adding value to his milk with focus on pasteurised milk.
“I want to start producing pasteurised milk from the farm to the supermarket. Value addition is the way to go,” Bugingo said.
He, however, decried the continued decline of milk prices, which he said is affecting dairy farmers. Bugingo said the only way farmers can beat price fluctuations is by adding value.
“The price of milk has dropped from sh1,200 to sh400 per litre. With all the investment we put in, does not make any business sense,” Bugingo said. From Bugingo’s farm, the ambassador and his team also visited Kyakabunga Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society, which the Netherlands government has given milk coolers and extension services.