Inside Politics

Farmer strikes gold in the chick hatchery

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 06:23 |
Newton Frodwa displays eggs under incubation at his Mayombe Hatchery farm, Kisumu town. PD/NOVEN OWITI
Newton Frodwa displays eggs under incubation at his Mayombe Hatchery farm, Kisumu town. PD/NOVEN OWITI

In the overcrowded Migosi estate of Kisumu town, Newton Frodwa admires his chicks as they hatch one by one.

Passion for food production and  a desire to be self-employed was the driving force that lured Frodwa into the enterprise four years ago.

“From my little knowledge of farming, I only followed my passion and picked up the agribusiness venture. To date, things have been looking up,” he says.

His Mayombe Farm hatches improved kienyeji breed chicks and sells them to other farmers in Nyanza and Western Kenya counties. The farm sources the fertilised eggs from specific farmers at Sh20 each, which are incubated and hatched into chicks.

On a rental space measuring approximately 50 feet by 80 feet, Frodwa has managed to set up a poultry farm by tapping into an unexploited lucrative market.

Armed with Sh250,000 start-up capital, which was his savings from a previous job at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), he decided to try his hand at the venture. He spent the money on buying a 528-eggs capacity incubator, fertilised eggs and the balance went into meeting operation costs.

He acquired the locally-fabricated incubator at Sh70,000. Though at the initial stages of the agribusiness things looked bleak, the farmer remained resolute to realising his dreams. 

“I lost about 500 eggs in my first attempt at hatching, but this didn’t kill my spirit to continue with the business because I was convinced good fortunes awaited me,” he recounts.

Years later, 37-year-old Frodwa began counting gains, which motivated him to scale-up the poultry business in order to maximise benefits from the available market. From chicks’ sales proceeds, he acquired a sizeable incubator with a capacity to carry 1,056 eggs.

The farm now has other two incubators that cost Sh170,000. One has a capacity to hold 2,600 eggs while the other 2,400 eggs.

Currently, the farm hatches about 5,000 eggs in every production cycle, which translates into viable profits. It has established a fair market base, with customers trooping in daily in search of chicks while others place their orders for deliveries in advance.

The hatchery process takes 21 days, 18 in the incubation stage and another three in the hatcheries.

Big bucks

From the hatcheries, the hatchlings are transferred into a brooder section where they are introduced to chick mash as they wait to be sold off. The chicks for sale range from a day old to two months’ old. Day-old chick goes for Sh100, a month old at Sh250 while two months-old cost Sh350. 

“We mainly sell the chicks between the stage of one week and one month. Demand for egg hatching services is high,” he says. 

The farm also incubates eggs for farmers at a fee of Sh20 each. “People who don’t have incubators come to us to do the services on their behalf.

On average, Mayombe Farm nets between Sh100,000 and Sh250,000 monthly in profits. “There is a  huge gap in the market in areas of hatchery services and reliable quality eggs supplies,” says Frodwa.

To win the trust of customers, he says, maintaining personal integrity is important in ensuring successful poultry farming.

Finding quality fertilised eggs, poultry disease outbreaks and high power cost incurred in running the incubators and hatcheries remain top challenges to his enterprise.

Frodwa regrets losing chicks worth Sh60,000 due to unusual poultry disease infection that attacked his stock. “There are mistakes we have made along the way. But eventually, we have improved and are now getting up to 80-83 eggs hatch rate out of 100,” he says.

Increase production

As part of his expansion plans, Frodwa intends to start out-grower programme aimed at mentoring local poultry keepers and creating partnerships to fully tap into the local market. “We will reach out to upcoming farmers so they can feed into the  expanding market,” he adds, urging young people to embrace agribusiness to transform the society.

 Frodwa’s efforts to boost local poultry keeping comes against the backdrop of dwindling poultry products supply by farmers in Kisumu county. The county director of Livestock Production, John Likoko, says there is need for maximised commercial poultry ventures to increase productivity. 

“There is a growing trend in poultry product consumption in the county because of the expanding middle class population, especially in Kisumu town, who have changed their eating habits. However, we are only able to generate 30 per cent in poultry products out of our total requirement due to the high demand,” says Likoko.

Consequently, the county government is coming up with interventions expected to improve agriculture, including promoting commercialised poultry keeping, capacity building farmers on modern poultry husbandry practices and lobbying for better market access. “We are trying to improve market access by encouraging farmers to form groups so that they have collective bargaining power for their products as well as reduce production cost,” he says. 

The livestock officer cites high mortality from poultry diseases, fluctuating feed qualities, lack of credit access by farmers and poor access to quality chicks as challenges facing poultry keeping in Kisumu. There are also few extension officers and predators in the case of indigenous breeds that are kept on free range. “We have many sources of day-old chicks in the county that are not certified by our veterinary directorate and this is compromising on the quality of the birds being reared,” he explained.

More on Inside Politics