Why Ayikoyo’s farm is an inspiration for youths to venture in Agriculture

Why Ayikoyo’s farm is an inspiration for youths to venture in Agriculture

BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI

ARUA. Peter Ayikoyo, a surveyor by profession, has set up a farm to demystify the notion that it is only the white-collar jobs which pay well.

Ayikoyo says he intends to use his farm to inspire jobless youths in Arua city and West Nile sub-region at large to instead start venturing into agriculture as a sure source of getting good money.

Ayikoyo is currently looking after goats and poultry on a 5-acre piece of land in Agbulu cell, Yabiavoko ward in Riki, Ayivu East Division of Arua City. The farm is legally registered as PeterFarm Agri Solutions Uganda (U) Limited.

Ayikoyo shows one of the cocks at his farm on Monday. Photo by Andrew Cohen Amvesi

“I started this farm after seeing that many youths are not convinced that farming can actually make you grow bigger financially. So, I want to show the youths that agriculture is not only for the old, it is not only for the unprivileged but for youths too,” Ayikoyo said during an exclusive interview at the farm on Monday July 8, 2024.

“You know our education system doesn’t tell us the fact that white-collar jobs can’t make you wealthy. In Uganda, they tell us that white-collar jobs are the best but in reality, they are actually not. For example, when you take the life of a farmer who has like 100 goats and, in a year, those goats can multiply and become like 300. If he sells like 200 goats at a market price of shs200,000, he can make like shs40m but someone who works in an office and earns a salary of shs1m per month will in a year earn something like only shs12m, so a farmer is actually better than that person,” Ayikoyo explained.

Ayikoyo checks the level of water for his two weeks old chicks at the farm. Photo by Andrew Cohen Amvesi

Ayikoyo noted that from his farm, he makes between shs5m to shs10m per month and is expecting to earn about shs30m a month in the near future, an opportunity which he doesn’t see in surveying.

“That is one thing that has convinced me to do farming because even it has less stress than surveying,” Ayikoyo said.

How he started

Ayikoyo says he started the farm in 2022 by buying the land and fenced it in 2023. He says he later began with 30 goats which have since multiplied to 60 goats.

“In 2024, I came to poultry; I started with 80 and now I have over 1,000 birds in just five months. I have local goats and the improved South African Boer goats. Then for poultry, I have Kuroilers,” Ayikoyo said.

A hen prepares to lay eggs in one of the jerrycans partially filled with sand. Photo by Andrew Cohen Amvesi

“Actually, in total, I invested close to shs80m in building the chicken and goats’ house plus fencing of this farm. This excludes buying the goats, chicken and the hatchery but if I add the land, goats and everything I have here, it can be around shs130m,” he remarked.

Ayikoyo said currently, he sells eggs, chicken and manure to earn money on a daily basis, adding that he is not selling the goats at the moment because he wants the number to grow.

“Right now, I’m making money from the sale of eggs, chicken and organic manure made from chicken and goats’ faeces. I even do sell chicks because I do hatch the chicks myself. I have a hatchery at my home,” Ayikoyo narrated.

Ayikoyo observed that he is using a Ugandan made hatchery which hatches 300 chicks in 21 days. The hatchery is kept at his home in town because the farm has no electricity to power it.

But Ayikoyo decided to buy a small solar panel which is basically being used to provide lighting for the chicken and security light at the farm at night.

Ayikoyo is so passionate about farming to the extent that in his free time, he usually watches farming videos on YouTube so as to get different innovative ideas to add on his farm.

He narrated that in order to minimize cost as the number of the chicken kept on increasing, he watched on YouTube how people locally improvise materials for the chicken to lay eggs and did the same in his chicken house.

“I normally watch You Tube videos on how people are doing their poultry businesses. So, I copied the concept of cutting jerrycans and partly filled them with sand to allow the chicken to lay eggs in them. After laying the eggs, my workers collect them on a daily basis and pack them in trays ready for sale. Actually, I got that idea on YouTube and it is working very well for me,” Ayikoyo said.

Challenges

In the course of setting up and running the farm, Ayikoyo says the biggest challenge he has been facing is that of inadequate funds.

“Farming is one of the best jobs but it needs money both for starting and running the activities in the farm. My second challenge here right now is water. Water here is seasonal like during the dry season in December, water is not there in the valley and this affects my birds and animals,” Ayikoyo said.

“Then the other challenge is power. I don’t have power here and as a result, I can’t bring my hatchery around. Another challenge now is the size of the land is becoming smaller everyday which is also affecting my operations,” Ayikoyo stated.

Besides, he says chicken feeds have become so expensive in the market especially in the West Nile region this time round.

“Actually, one of the problems farmers face in keeping birds these days is the high price of feed. The issue of sickness, security may be small but feeds are not easy, they are too expensive. Right now, I spend around shs400,000 to shs500,000 on chicken feeds every week,” he elaborated.

Future plans

Ayikoyo says he intends to buy more land to expand the farm so that he can be in position to introduce cattle keeping on the farm.

He added that the 5 acres has become too small for him, a reason he has started buying more land in the neighborhood for future expansion.

“I want to acquire like 5 or 10 more acres of land and I will fence it again. I also want to dig a borehole or a locally made well on the farm to address the water challenge I’m facing here,” Ayikoyo said.

“So, my future plan is to expand and I want to have over 50,000 birds and over 3,000 goats, not only goats but also other animals like cows. I want to have a variety of animals and birds from chicken to ducks and other types of birds. I am a nature lover; I love nature, I love being around animals and birds. So, in future, I think I will expand and employ more people who are idle to come and work here,” Ayikoyo promised.

He said currently he employs three people whom he pays on monthly basis using the returns from the farm.

“So, my aim is to grow bigger and employ more youths in this farm. I think if all goes well, I want to have around 50 acres of land and this will make me have not less than 300 cows in this farm,” Ayikoyo said.

Ayikoyo also intends to import a hatchery which can hatch about 5,000 chicks in 21 days in a bid to achieve his future target of keeping 50,000 birds at the farm.

In his plan, Ayikoyo said from October this year, the number of the birds at his farm will have to increase by 1,000 every month – that is when the modern hatchery lands in the country.

He says the hatchery he is using currently hatches about 250 to 260 chicks translating to about 70 percent efficiency as opposed to the 99 percent hatchery efficiency he wants.

“In future, I will build a hatchery room. I’m going to install solar systems around so that everything runs smoothly and on power,” Ayikoyo said.

Market for his farm products

Ayikoyo says he has a readily available market for his farm products within Arua city and outside.

“We have so many hotels in Arua city right now. We also have international markets like South Sudan and DR Congo; they come to buy things from here. Like if you go to Odramacaku market located at DR Congo-Uganda border, every week on Fridays, they look for goats and chicken. It is a matter of carrying these things and go to sell them from there or they come and buy from the farm here directly,” he said.

At the moment, Ayikoyo has not started exporting his farm products but relies on the local market within Arua city.

“Currently, I’m selling my birds to hotels and the eggs to traders operating shops in the city. My chicken goes for shs30,000 to shs40,000 on ordinary days but on big days like Christmas and Easter among others, I sell each at around shs60,000 to shs80,000 depending on the size of the bird,” Ayikoyo said.

Ayikoyo’s advice to the public

“As I told you earlier, our Ugandan education system has taught the youths very badly that they think farming is a very dirty job, so they don’t want to venture into these things. People want to be in suits, they want to be smart all the time on tarmacked roads, and at the end of the day, they don’t earn anything,” Ayikoyo said.

“But when you have such a farm plus your salary, at the end of the month, you can have something bigger. Let people start small, I started with about shs80m but that’s me; someone else can even start with shs1m or shs5m and can get millions of shillings in farming so long as the person selects good enterprise(s) like poultry keeping which earns quick monies to begin with,” Ayikoyo advised.

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