By Moses Kizito Buule
A former Eritrean Consul to Uganda has opened a shs. 2.2bn/= agricultural training centre to train Ugandans in modern poultry, fish farming and goat rearing for export standards.
Tesfalem Gherahtu, with a dual Eritrean and Ugandan citizenship, was the Eritrean consul to Uganda between 2000 and 2010, and is undertaking the training project in partnership with an Eritrean colleague, Woldu Ghebreyesus.
The project operating under the business name of Katochick, is initially operating on 15 acres located at Busoke village, Mpunge sub-county in Mukono South constituency.located on a five acre, with a projected extension plan in Nakasongola district.
Gherahtu who came to Uganda in 1998, said he was attracted to do business here due to the conducive investment atmosphere, political will by leadership and an enabling climatic condition.
“While we have only a single rainy season in Eritrea, Uganda is endowed with an abundance of rain, fertile soil and natural water sources to conduct irrigation should the need arise, all of which make it possible for producers to harvest more than once in  a year”, he said.
The project is run on a 34-kilowatt solar power source, which he said is the first of its kind in the country at that level, with automatic feed mixers, feeders and drinkers, which he says reduces chances of infecting the birds with diseases transmitted by too much human presence.
He said they have started with an initial 30,000 chicks, hired an Egyptian veterinary doctor to train two Ugandan veterinarians who will at a latter stage work as trainers of farmers with a view to enable everyone get skills of offering basic treatment for their birds.
Gherahtu said that they have a plan to involve as many Ugandans as possible in President Museveni’s dream of making Uganda a major provider of the Middle East market with chicken and goat’s meat.
He added, “and in the process, we shall be contributing to the desired goal of improving household incomes, fighting hunger  and lifting the country’s economy to middle income”.
Gherahtu was sad to note that many Ugandans with acess to vast land flock out of the country to go for odd jobs abroad when they can take advantage of nature’s gift and make wealth from their land.
He said that although initially they are starting with the local market like restaurants, in  two years, together with Ugandan trained farmers,  they will have reached the capacity to supply the international market
Two Ugandans veterinarians Dr. Bumali Kisige and Dr. Aaron Bataamye who are permanently stationed at the project, said Ugandans in the vicinity of the project are allowed to visit and get accustomed to poultry farming in a modern way.
“Although we have not yet got into formal training of locals, we have advised them to begin on the basics line observing hygienic conditions in their homes, having a clean environment and growing food to feed their families, all in a bid to cut down on medical expenses”, Dr. Kisige told New Vision.
Speaking on phone, the LC 3 chairperson for Mpunge Freda Muwanga expressed optimism that the project is bound to help improve people’s incomes as spelt out by the president’s policy..
“Our people have been rearing few chicken because of lack of knowledge, but with the Eritrean friends’ contribution, this situation is going to change to turn poultry into a big income earning venture”, she said.
Muwanga disclosed that the project is, additionally, going to assist communities set up a primary school in the area