Kirinyaga farmers reap big from egg hatchery business

Poultry farming groups in Kirinyaga County are reaping big from egg hatchery venture that has seen them earn over Ksh 1 million in the last few months. Driven by the increased number of chicken farmers and demand for white meat, the farmers ventured into egg hatching business through the support of Governor Anne Waiguru’s Wezesha Kirinyaga Empowerment program. The farmers groups were issued with egg incubators that are hatching and supplying chicks to farmers across the county. So far, about 19 farmers groups have hatched and sold over 10,000 chicks worth over Ksh 1 million.

The groups are part of the 473 community organizations that have been funded by the county government to undertake various agricultural projects such as poultry keeping, pig rearing, bee keeping, tomato and avocado farming, fish and dairy farming. Three of the groups namely; Muki Vision (Mutira ward), Decent Haso (Thiba ward) and Kandongu Mukathi (Mutithi ward) are leading in the egg hatching venture. As at February this year, the three groups had hatched 2,056, 1,640 and 1,365 chicks respectively. Group members said the incubators project has opened new revenue streams for their families. “We used to take a lot of time to hatch enough chicks to distribute because we only relied on layers to produce chicks. As a group we had no financial capacity to buy the incubators but the county government helped us and we are now reaping the fruits of this investment,” said Benard Njeru, an official of Trailblazers Youth group from Baragwi ward.

Governor Waiguru gave out 19 incubators and generators for power backup in the first phase of the project. Each of the machines has a capacity to hatch 1,050 chicks at a go. Waiguru said that the project is part of Wezesha Kirinyaga empowerment program which aimed at making agricultural activities translate to better incomes and improved livelihoods of the county residents. She said that the project has economically empowered residents to diversify their agricultural activities to reduce overdependence on traditional cash crops whose prices are unreliable.

County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture and Livestock Development, Dr. John Gachara, says that the egg hatching initiative has helped in the sustainability of the poultry keeping project. “The groups are the ones selling chicks to those others that are involved in rearing and this way there is a ready supply and ready market for the chicks,” he said. Gachara said each of the group was also given 1000 fertilized eggs to start off the initiative. “In the next phase, we are planning to expand so as to get more people into the venture. We will issue an additional two incubators per ward,” said Gachara. The CECM said poultry keeping industry in the county has spiked positive trends in the demand for artificially hatched chicks and eggs. Increased health consciousness among Kenyan meat consumers has boosted consumption of white meat such as chicken, which is also more affordable than beef or pork. “Going forward, the industry will continue to enjoy appreciable growth and chicken farmers will keep smiling to the bank,” he added.

To help farmers maximize on profit, governor Waiguru introduced supply of free feeds for the poultry for the first six months. Thereafter, the farmers are also able to get the feed at a subsidized price. “The subsidized input prices have enabled chicken farmers to increase production volumes; on the other hand, many of the farmers have consolidated to gain the benefits of economies of scale,” he added. Miriam Wakuthii of Cera Kimandi Self Help Group says that apart from giving them the incubators, the county government has also trained them on how to undertake egg hatching business. “We are very grateful to governor Waiguru for holding our hand. We have started making profit from this venture. We have increased hatching success rate to 90 percent, which means we have broken even,” said Wakuthii. She said the group is selling one day old chicks to individual farmers and groups within and outside the county.

Kandongu Mukathi, another group of farmers that have benefitted from the project have hatched 1,356 chicks which were sold to members and other individual clients. One of the group’s officials, Lydia Njeri, said the first batch of chicks sold to group members are already laying eggs. “Our project is successful, we sell a day-old chick at Ksh 100, we shared dividends from the sales of chicks in December,” said Njeri.

The success of Wezesha Kirinyaga project has become a benchmarking initiative for other counties. The program helps farmers not only feed their families but also become part of the solution to bridging the global food and nutrition security gap, while boosting local economies and providing a platform for educating farmers.

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