A short ride from Kisumu town’s Kibuye market leads us to one Abisai Nandi’s farm. We find him preparing to deliver dozens of assorted chicks to farmers as well as slaughtered chicken products to the market.
The farmer welcomes us and begins to narrate the successes behind his poultry project. From Sh300,000 as seed capital accumulated from savings in 2014, Nandi has established an enterprise that had been his desire for a long time. “I went into poultry after noticing there was a gap in producing quality kienyeji chicken around Kisumu,” says Nandi.
Though armed with little expertise in poultry matters then, he plunged into agribiz with full confidence and commitment. He used Sh200,000 to construct chicken houses, purchase an incubator and a hatchery, farm equipment and chicken feed.
The Sh100, 000 balance was spent on buying chicks to stock up the business. Nandi first concentrated on hatching and selling chicks to poultry farmers. “The business picked up well and from the proceeds, I added two incubators of 1,200 egg capacity in January 2015,” recounts the 31-year-old.
But to his dismay, things took a new twist as challenges soon cropped up. The brood was hit by diseases and chicks died. During the worst moments, he resorted to buying fertilised eggs from farmers. “But my customers were shocked by the poor quality of the chicks I was giving out and this saw them raise many complaints,” he says.
Weak chicks resulted in stunted growth and were also hit by high death rates. This forced him to offer free chicks to farmers in bid to save the image of his business.
“From simple calculations, I realised that I was making huge losses and I had to seek a solution,” he says. Nandi decided to start his own firm, which now deals with selling chicks, slaughtered chicken products and chicken feed.
He registered Chicken Basket in 2016 as a business located in Tom Mboya estate. Today, he buys chicks of different sizes from certified hatcheries and later sells them to farmers.
Once the chicks mature, his firm buys them back for slaughter or even reselling as live birds. Nandi sells day-old chicks at Sh100, one-month-olds at Sh250 and two-month-olds at Sh350.
Additionally, his firm also sells large live birds at Sh650 each on average. “In a day, we source on about 500 chicks from recognised hatcheries. We sell a minimum of 30 large birds for meat,” he explains. His firm also offers a market for the birds from the farmers he has contracted.
“We buy birds especially from our contracted farmers at Sh500, slaughter and pack them in branded containers before they are distributed to markets. We also do free house deliveries using our branded tuk tuks,” he says.
With four staff members, Chicken Basket has partnered with animal feeds suppliers such as Bidco Feeds and Kuku Chicks in Eldoret. They obtain orders from farmers then supplies kienyenji chicks and layers’ mash.
Currently, he works with 200 contracted farmers from Kisumu, Vihiga, Nandi, Siaya, Kakamega, Bungoma, Migori, Homa Bay and Busia counties. “I have established goodwill for my business, which enables me get farmers through referrals. To expand, I also market the enterprise in open farmers’ events and expos,” says the farmer.
Nandi decries lack of access to bank loans to expand the business and high costs of chicken feeds as top challenges. “Banks are reluctant to give loans to poultry farmers on the ground that they don’t see it as a viable business in terms of repayment,” he says.
Notwithstanding lack of credit, the farmer plans to roll out a broader marketing strategy. He advises other farmers to start keeping local (kienyenji) or free- range) chicken on a large -scale.