Geoffrey Ojok | April 25, 2016
Tears roll down Henry Otim’s cheeks as he recalls the pain he experienced at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army. In northern Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army was well-known for abducting children into its ranks. Mr. Otim was abducted in 2004. But he says all is not lost. Twelve years later, he is creating a better life for himself and his three siblings by raising quail.
In April 2004, Lord’s Resistance Army rebels attacked the Abia camp for internally displaced persons in Apala village, north of Lira. The rebels killed 53 people, including Mr. Otim’s parents, and abducted him. Mr. Otim was rescued by the Uganda People’s Defense Force.
After years of suffering, Mr. Otim needed to support his siblings. He explains, “We were left with an uncertain future that forced me to work in people’s gardens to earn a living.”
The 27-year-old is now successfully raising quail. He says, “I have hope in rearing birds. I have been rearing local birds since I was nine years old.”
To get started, Mr. Otim saved $57 US and bought the quail from a local seller in his village. He now has nearly 300 birds.
Emmanuel Ocen is a successful quail farmer who lives in the village of Ober in Lira district, about 390 kilometres from Kampala. He says raising quail is popular in his area because of the nutritional value of the eggs. He says, “I started with 30 quail in 2015…. Currently, I have 210 birds and I plan to increase.”
Mr. Ocen makes a good income by selling the quail and their eggs. He sells a tray of 30 quail eggs for $8 US and a mature quail for $2 US. He also supplies the birds and their eggs to supermarkets in Lira.
Mr. Otim says quail are great birds for farmers. He explains, “Compared to chickens, quail are easy to raise. Chickens require regular monitoring and feeding, unlike quail.”
Quail are not expensive to keep. According to Mr. Otim, a 70-kilogram bag of feed costs $33 US, and lasts his 210 birds more than two months. Each bird eats 30 grams per day, much less than the 120 grams mature chickens consume. He feeds young quail on chicken starter because it provides the nutrients necessary for healthy development.
Dominic Namuyimba raises quail in the nearby village of Wakiso, and has been keeping the birds for two years. He says quail have many advantages. He explains, “Quail grow faster and are ready for slaughter after six weeks. They are good pets, can eat from your hands, and respond to their pet names.”
Michael Mukasa is a veterinary doctor at Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture. He says people like to eat quail eggs because of the health benefits. He explains: “They have [low] cholesterol and have a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. They stimulate, rejuvenate the body … [and] combat stress, diabetes, obesity, as well as liver and kidney diseases.”
Mr. Otim is happy that the quail business has made him so successful after the suffering he experienced at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army. His earnings have helped him support his three siblings and pay for labourers to work in his gardens. He says, “I am happy with the turn of events. I hope to expand … and employ a worker to run the business effectively.”