Incubator Maker Spurs Uganda's Poultry Industry

UGANDA - Locally manufactured incubators are giving the poultry industry a boost.
calendar icon 5 October 2010
clock icon 5 minute read

By 2002, Godfrey Walusimbi already had 14 years experience in commercial poultry while Jimmy Kiwanuka had five years of electrical engineering and motor mechanics, according to All Africa.

In February 2002, Mr Walusimbi approached Mr Kiwanuka on how they would combine their biological and electrical expertise to come up with an incubator that would enable poultry businesses go fully commercial.

Eight months later, the two men tested their first incubator that scored 70 per cent hatchability. This is the ratio of incubated number eggs to those hatched. The success that came along with that technological innovation led Mr Kiwanuka to change his line of work.

He is now the technical manager of Butenga Farmers Chick Star (BFCS), a poultry farming business founded by Walusimbi in 1988. The original plan with the incubator was to shift from selling eggs from the farm and deal in chicks too.

Mr Kiwanuka explained: "But when our local technology triumphed over the imported, people started demanding to buy them from us and now, it is one of our major businesses."

He says the first incubator had a 700-egg capacity, but now the company produces an incubator range that has a 896-capacity to 10,000 for domestic or small-scale users.

Another one covers 20,000 to 30,000 for commercial clients all with improved technology enabling them to attain an 85 per cent hatchability mark compared with the 70 per cent for the imported.

Mr Kiwanuka said: "We take our business as a national pride. We are the originators of the technology we apply. South Africa and Uganda could be the only countries where incubators are manufactured in Africa."

The company has taken on a journey along which it has gained local and international popularity for relieving African poultry farmers of the burden of importing incubators from Britain and India as well as chicks from Zimbabwe.

The incubators cost between four million and 35 million shillings (UGX). Some are bought locally while others are exported to countries such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Locally, NAADS is their biggest corporate client.

BFCS also has a range of incubators reserved for farmers who take their eggs for incubation and hatching, at 150 per egg. It also hatches eggs for birds such as ostriches.

Mr Walusimbi says that currently a tray of layer eggs costs UGX18,000 while a layer chick costs UGX2,400. In a tray of 30 eggs, he says, a farmer who has resorted to incubation and hatching they stands to earn UGX54,000 as profit.

All Africa reports that, according to Jafali Ndugga, the managing director of Valley Poultry Breeders, getting introduced to BFCS' incubators was a big remedy to the operational challenges he used to face.

He says he bought a 10,000-egg capacity incubator from BFCS at UGX15 million, yet he used to import incubators of similar capacity from India at UGX35 million.

"The locally-made incubators are also more user-friendly than the imported ones and when they develop technical problems, the company technicians help you through a phone call or report physically in less than a day."

Mr Ndugga reasons that though countries like Britain and India give guarantees too, it doesn't help much because they are always hard to reach.

According to Mr Walusimbi, the farm currently has a 5,000 parent stock of improved breeds imported from Netherlands and Mauritius and more than 3,000 chicks are hatched every week.

Apart from the poultry business, Mr Walusimbi says the firm also has a small factory that manufactures egg trays from paper waste. They also have candle-moulding machines and banana plantations and also rear goats on their 6.5 acres of land.

Mr Walusimbi has registered a number of achievements out of incubators and poultry business, but the most memorable is the UGX40 million Fuso truck donated to him by President Yoweri Museveni in February this year while touring the progress of the Prosperity-For-All projects in Wakiso district.

His company is a three time winner of trophies in the annual Source of the Nile Agriculture exhibition held in Jinja.

Through BFCS, the director has been able to conduct internship programmes for a number of local and international tertiary institutions offering farming technology courses, according to All Africa.

"In addition to our shops in Kireka and Venus Plaza in Kampala, we are currently constructing a three-flour complex in Kira which will serve as a mega show room and training centre," he says.

The challenges the company faces include incubator-making parts such as sensors and wood which are imported, which make the final products a little costly, Mr Walusimbi says.

"I am also happy that I managed to train in modern poultry technology at the Food and Allied Industries in Mauritius which knowledge I brought to Uganda," he says.

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