Apac District Chairman, Bob Okae has every reason to smile as he bags about shs200 million from proceeds from his farms in Inomo subcounty, Apac District every year.
Okae, 46, expects to harvest over 100,000Kg of maize from the 50 hectares this year. The crops are expected to be harvested in December. A kilo of maize sells at sh1100, with buyers coming from Kampala or Lira town. “I personally dig or weed together with my workers as they get motivated to do good work in the farm,” Okae said.
His farms are located in Akoremor village, Banya parish, Inomo subcounty.
He also has cassava farm and supplies stem cuttings to agricultural organizations. “Recently I got shs8M by selling cuttings to an organization in the district. I like the stems more than tubers as their prices are higher,” he said.
Bob Okae in his groundnuts stores
The business oriented LC5chief said, “Most politicians and civil servants have a bad attitude of solely depending on salaries and other savings from workplaces while forgetting that there is much money in commercial farming.”
Okae also plants simsim and he harvests at least 40 bags annually fetching about sh12Milion. With 156 bags of groundnuts already harvested in August this year, but still in stores, and selling at shs150,000 per bag, Okae expects to bag shs23.4Million.
The chairman hires a tractor for tilting his gardens and employs 100 men and women to work in his farms. He plants in both seasons. “Rains have been reliable in this subcounty throughout the year,” he said.
Okae applies fertilizers in the gardens twice before flowering to enhance better yields. Although locals fear fertilizers that might cause land infertility, Okae has been a role model to by applying the soil booster as the community admires crops from sprouting till harvest. He buys fertilizers from Kampala or Lira.
The District Chairman uses the extension staff services. “Our extension staff deployed at subcounty levels are sometime redundant or idle due to lack of work. Locals are making the best use of the production staff near them,” he said.
Okae also does fish farming with 2000 mud fish ready for sale at shs10,000 each, fetching about shs20Million this year. There is also a pond currently rearing 800 tilapia. “I supply fish to hotels in Lira, Aduku and Apac,” he said adding he also plans to engage in cage fish farming dine in lake waters next year.
Okae invests the monies he gets from farm proceeds into constructing houses in Aduku and Lira towns. “Part of the money is spent on fees for my children and dependents. I don’t depend on savings from salaries and allowances since money from the farms can do much in support to achieving my dreams,” he said.
One of the challenges Okae faces is maize disease called maize streak. “We apply pesticides on seeing maize leaves going pale or being eaten up by worms. The diseases and pests affect yields and harvests if not controlled,” he said.
“Cassava tubers theft is rampant but has reduced of recent when a man was imprisoned for stealing crops from my farm,” he said.
Market for the crops is not an exception as produce dealers offer low prices during bumper harvests and cheat poor farmers in the area. “Our farmers need to change their attitude and form groups or store crops together to attract lucrative prices,” LC5 chief advises.
Okae Bob’s Tel: 0755687022/0776000782
By Patrick Opio(6/10/2017)