Immaculately dressed, forty-year-old Grace Omia stands in her fenced compound smiling and feeding her geese. They are growing large—a good start to her new poultry business in Northern Uganda’s Lira district.
Mrs. Omia heard from a neighbour that rearing geese could generate income to help support her family. So in April, she bought her first three white geese and several ducks.
Geese are not common in Ugandan homes. But Mrs. Omia plans to rear them alongside birds such as pigeons and peacocks to boost her profits.
She bought the geese from a Kenyan businessman in Kampala. She explains: “I plan to rear them … until September when they will start producing eggs and hatching. One goose can produce 12 to 15 eggs, [which take] almost 40 days to hatch. Their behaviour is just like that of the duck.”
Dennis Ogwang also farms in Lira district, and agrees with Mrs. Omia. He says the bird is easy to domesticate, and a good money-maker. He adds: “Geese are not as destructive as ducks. They feed on grass and chicken feeds. They also swim and mate in water—not outside the water—and always make a loud sound in the compound, similar to an alarm.”
Traditional beliefs in Uganda may stop some farmers from buying geese. Raymond Olung is a civil society activist in Lira district. He says many people associate the bird with bad luck, and are unlikely to start rearing them.
But Mrs. Omia says rearing geese makes good business sense because demand is high, particularly among Chinese residents and visitors. She explains: ”My main customers are Chinese [people] living in Uganda or abroad who are regular visitors in hotels and restaurants around the country.… Almost any Chinese restaurant in Uganda sells goose meat.”
She says that people like goose meat because it is tasty. She adds, ”It is nicer than duck meat, brown in colour, and can be roasted or fried.… It could also be added to any other local delicacies.”
Mrs. Omia says it costs 300,000 Ugandan shillings ($88 US) to buy a pair of young geese. But farmers can sell them for 500,000 to 600,000 Ugandan shillings ($147 to $176 US) on the open market.
Antony Muchiri is a young farmer who rears geese and turkeys in Kirinyaga County. At first, he considered rearing quail, but learned that the market for small birds was dwindling fast in his area.
So he turned to geese, and he now has more than 200. He says he first heard of rearing geese on a local radio program. He adds, “I embarked on a fact-finding mission through the Internet. I was able to get information regarding rearing different types of geese.” Like others, he decided on white geese.
Mrs. Omia is excited about rearing geese. She says: ”I need money and grass, and a large area to keep these birds. They beautify the home naturally and bring income to my family. I will use the money I get from the birds to pay school fees and also to buy another piece of land…. I will also use the money to pay debts and build a permanent house in the future.”