A project to promote indigenous chicken in 2011 proved to be a turning point for Mary Muhatia, a widow from Kakamega County. The project which was initiated by the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPP) aimed to promote the venture as a business among smallholder farmers in the region. Mary who started with 12 chickens now has a stock of more than 10,000 birds which she supplies to Kakamega Golf Hotel on a weekly basis earing her between Sh60, 000 to Sh90, 000 a week.
“When my husband died in 2010, I had to take care of my family of four, single-handedly. I took up odd jobs including working as a house help and selling illicit brews. At times I did casual labor at nearby farms, just to provide for my children” said Mary.
“However when I heard about the training on indigenous chicken management by KAPP, I joined a group of farmers who had expressed interest in taking up the indigenous chicken project as a business.”
The farmer joined the local Itenyi poultry keeping group in Kakamega County and attended the KAPP training sessions on poultry housing, pest and disease control, poultry feeding and nutrition and implemented all that she learnt.
She benefited from the linkages made to the local Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) among other stakeholders. The bank trained her group members on credit management, after which she borrowed Sh50, 000. She used the money to procure 500 improved indigenous chickens from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Naivasha at a cost of Sh100 per chick. She also improved her poultry house by purchasing feeders, drinkers and feeds.
Six months later in late 2011 she was in business. Her first crop of birds was ready. This happened at a time when the service provider firm had just linked her group with the Kakamega Golf Hotel. The hotel required 200 birds every week, part of which she could supply. The firm later introduced her to the concept of relay stocking and she again procured a loan of Sh100, 000, which she used to improve her chicken house. She partitioned it into six units which she stocked at monthly intervals for sustained production of volumes demanded by the local market.
This approach has converted the enterprise into a full time occupation for Mary. She currently maintains a stock of 10,000 birds. She sells between 100 and 150 birds per week to the Golf Hotel at Sh600 per bird. She also sells eggs. This gives her gross earnings of between Sh60, 000 and Sh90, 000 per week.
Besides acquiring half an acre piece of land, she also bought a dairy cow that gives her milk which she sells at the local market. From her earnings, she has moved into dairy, piggery and goat rearing as a business. But she still retains indigenous birds which have enabled her educate her children comfortably in addition to earning income to sustain her livelihood.