Grace Odyambo | December 5, 2016
For an average Ugandan farmer, life has always been a struggle. Nothing comes easy. Weather fluctuations, crop diseases, costly inputs, and selling prices for produce are a constant headache.
The cost of feed has become a daily nightmare for poultry farmers. The price of purchasing livestock and chicken feed has doubled from 70,000 shillings to 140,000 shillings ($19-38 US) per 100 kilograms. This is the price for good feed made from ingredients such as soy meal and maize.
The changing weather presents another challenge. And there is no guarantee that good feed will be available in sufficient quantities and quality in the future.
That is why farmers like Edward Ssebbombo are turning to alternative sources of feed such as insects. Mr. Ssebbombo is the managing director of Bobo Eco-farm, a 10-acre farm in the village of Lulagala in central Uganda’s Mityana district. He says, “Insect protein is much superior to plant [protein].”
He adds, “Our farm conducts a number of projects [with insects]. We are developing low-tech equipment to breed larvae of the black soldier fly.” He explains that the flies eat organic waste, and that their bodies are rich in protein. The flies can be fed to poultry and pigs. He adds, “Our group is also helping other small-scale famers through training, using this method for demonstration, so that they adapt it to their own use.”
The process of breeding the flies takes just a few weeks. Mr. Ssebbombo explains: “The adult black soldier fly lays its eggs in rotting fruits and vegetables and in composted manure. Within two weeks, the eggs have hatched and turned into mature larvae, which farmers can then immediately harvest and feed to chickens. They can also dry and process them into feed for later use.”
Earthworms can also be used as poultry feed. Isaac Ssekandi is making a good profit in this new business.
Mr. Ssekandi is the chairperson of the Tukoledewamu youth group in Gayaza, in the Wakiso district of central Uganda. He is a poultry farmer who breeds earthworms to feed his chickens.
Mr. Ssekandi says: “I ventured into poultry breeding because in Uganda today one must have a side income to make ends meet. Additionally, I did not have enough land for cultivation. Coupled with the high cost of feeds for the chickens, I hardly had any profits.”
Mr. Ssekandi was introduced to using earthworms as chicken feed at a farmers’ show held by Makerere University. Professor Kabi showed him how to rear earthworms to supplement chicken, fish, and animal feeds. Mr. Ssekandi says this completely changed his thinking and way of life. He explains, “I was overjoyed. Professor Kabi offered to sell me improved earthworm varieties from the university’s labs and also taught the caging method of breeding them.”
As for feeding them, Mr. Ssekandi says: “Earthworms can feed on leftover jackfruit and peelings of papaya, cassava, and mangoes, and can also feed on tomatoes. There is no need to worry about the cost since these are readily available in the rubbish dumps within our neighbourhood.”
He is mass producing earthworms and intends to expand his business. He produces about 10 kilograms of worms per week. The results are clear. He says: “I have noticed a remarkable improvement in the quality and quantity of eggs my chickens lay. Previously, I would collect 181 eggs daily from the 300 chickens, but now I collect about 270 eggs every day. I no longer spend a lot of money on feeds.”