Former lawyer banks on improved Kienyeji chicken to generate wealth.
“If you are not enjoying your job, then you are in the wrong profession,” opens Ian Mutwiri, chief executive officer at Homerange Poultry Kenya.
Mutwiri−a lawyer by profession− has never practised. After graduating from college, he got a banking job but later realized he was unsettled. He resigned in 2010. “Although the job was economically fulfilling, I was not emotionally satisfied. I wanted to invest in something that I like,” he recalls. By then, he was only 25 years.
He tried his hands in a few enterprises but failed. He eventually settled on farming. He researched on rabbit and pig farming and quickly realized that they were not promising. He thought of poultry farming and realized it could be lucrative. He started rearing layers and broilers, however the high investment costs and risks involved would later deter him. However, he discovered the demand for Kienyeji chicken was massive compared to exotic ones. This offered him a glimmer of hope.
Along the way, he contacted Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and he was introduced to improved Kienyeji chicken breed. He was fascinated by the breeds and procured 200 chicks.
He leased a small piece of land in Ruaka at a cost of Kshs 5,000 per month to construct a chicken coop to house them.
Homerange Poultry Kenya
From a small structure in 2013, the enterprise has immensely grown over the years. Homerange Poultry Kenya now boasts of over 5,000 KALRO’s improved Kienyeji chicken. It provides farmers with quality chicks and chicken products. It doubles up as a training and capacity building center for budding poultry farmers.
Kienyeji chicken take longer to mature compared to their exotic counterparts. However, they consume less feeds, which is cheaper and are resistant to many diseases. He says they are profitable. “I sell a one day old chick at Kshs. 120, a month old at Kshs. 300, while a mature chicken costs Kshs. 800.”
Mutwiri says he explores digital platforms to learn more tips on poultry farming. In addition, he has authored a comprehensive online journal on how to rear Kienyeji chicken in view of his successes.
He further shares optimism on the huge demand for the breeds. “The client’s orders are overwhelming, I can’t satisfy them all.” This, he says, may be due to the fact that they’re considered healthier and nutritious. “People are increasingly concerned with their health and what they eat. As such, they demand healthier foods.”
KALRO improved Kienyeji chicken
The breed has started gaining traction among urban farmers. It is however mainly practiced in rural and semi-rural areas. The chicken are mostly free-range and can be raised in a small space/surrounding leaving the birds to scavenge for their own food.
Introduced in 2012 by KALRO, it is a cross breed of best indigenous chicken. Besides having high resistance to common poultry diseases, they can be managed easily by maintaining proper hygiene and vaccination standards. Being free-range, they can feed on local plants, stones, insects, worms and even Kitchen waste. Processed feeds come in as complementary.
“The cost of producing a kienyeji chicken from day old to five months is about Kshs. 350,” he says.
Furthermore, hens start laying eggs at 4.5 months. They produce more eggs compared to ordinary Kienyeji (24 to 26 eggs every month), grow relatively fast and weigh more on maturity.
“Generally, through the application of various best practices such as proper housing, feeding, disease management and incubation, hatching and breeding, farmers are guaranteed of high returns,” observes Mutwiri.
Homerange provides training to individuals, organizations and groups among other interested parties on best practices which should be applied in poultry farming in order to maximize production. “We have trained over 5,000 individuals over the past 3 years,” he notes. He runs a single training session every month.
Occasionally, he visits farmers at the grassroots and trains them in their locality. It cuts down on logistics cost especially for groups.
He’s also partnered with a number of public and private institutions to boost capacity and ensures that farmers access vital information on best practices.
“In September 2015, we partnered with the Nation Media Group, Egerton University and Wambugu Farm Agricultural Training Center which took to Nyeri the first ever seeds of gold poultry farmers’ clinic. Over 2,700 farmers attended the event.” During such forums, participants are encouraged to interact with experts on poultry matters while making enquiries on areas they are facing challenges.
Recently, Homerange launched M-kuku. It is an SMS based platform that provides essential poultry farming information to farmers. They include Kienyeji farming tips, feeding, disease management, and marketing as well as local agrovets nearby. ”We aim to reach as many farmers as possible, especially those in rural areas who have no access to internet,” observes Mutwiri. Farmers can use their phones to get information at low cost.
He looks forward to set up a support center that will employ trained officers who will offer free services to the public on poultry farming.
The youthful entrepreneur has overseen major transformations over the few years he has been in operation. He has supplied over 250,000 Kienyeji chicks to farmers and created employment through his 50 distribution networks across the country. He further aims to introduce more farmers into the practice.
Player: Ian Mutwiri
Business: Homerange Poultry Kenya is a firm that specializes in rearing KALRO Kienyeji chicken as well as training farmers on best practices.
Funding: Used own savings
X-Factor: Kienyeji chicken are considered healthier and more nutritious than their exotic counterparts. People’s concern about healthier food has driven demand for the chicken.