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Kisumu youth takes a stab into farming through innovation

Ken Oracha not only sells chicks to farmers but also constructs incubators for sale at prices ranging from Sh40,000 to Sh300,000 depending on size

Kennedy Oracha is among the few young people who have taken a different path in life by getting into agribusiness. Contrary to the misconceptions associated with farming among the youth, Oracha discovered it worthwhile to follow his heart, tap into innovative skills and become a self-employed poultry farmer.

After graduating from Bukura Agricultural College in Kakamega County with a certificate in General Agriculture then a Diploma in Horticulture, Oracha was set to pursue his childhood passion of keeping poultry. Moved by the strong passion plus the added skills in agribusiness, he acquired few local birds and he was good to start off boldly in 2013.

We visited his Kenter Farm Enterprises located at Kisumu’s Mamboleo estate recently and he narrated to us the journey to his success. “At the onset I started rearing 20 birds which after sometime gradually multiplied into a big stock.

This was enough to convince me that the business was ideal,” he recalls. As the birds increased in number, he got more eggs so he got another idea of how to hatch them faster into live chicks. “I had to acquire an incubator but the glaring challenge was financial limitations,” he says.

Oracha shared his predicament over his long-term plan in the venture with his father. Out of goodwill, his father offered to buy him a Chinese made, 880-egg capacity incubator at Sh95,000.

Unfortunately, the imported incubator started experiencing technical failures. “I was dismayed after noticing that the local high temperatures did not favour the functionality of the machine leading to a continuous increase in heat within the hatchery.

As a result, I incurred huge loses because many eggs failed to hatch,” says Oracha. In 2015, he approached a friend with technical knowledge who not only helped him fix the problem but also offered to train him on how he could in future build his own hatchery from locally sourced materials.

Oracha, 30, agreed to the technician’s proposals and within a week he was trying his hand in constructing a model of a homemade local incubator. “After getting the technical know-how, I was able to make my first fully automated incubator using plywood and electronic components,” says Oracha. The machine had capacity for 1,320-egg capacity. Almost immediately, he sold the equipment at Sh 60, 000.

Later, word went round that he was making quality local incubators and hatcheries. Consequently, his business made a name within and outside Kisumu County, which translated into more orders. “I frequently bought air time in local radio stations which enabled the business quickly gain popularity,” he says. Motivated by the good returns, Oracha ploughed back the income into building more hatcheries.

He also steadily expanded his capacity and employed three assistants who also work in the farm. Currently, his farm produces many incubators and hatcheries of various sizes, which he markets both within Nyanza and Western regions.

“I make sure the farmers are properly trained on installation and maintenance practices once they buy the equipment. My farm also does a follow up with them and repairs the hatcheries in case of any break-ups,” he says.

The advantage the locally-made hatcheries over the imported ones is that they consume less power, have higher chances of the eggs hatching, are less prone to body shocks and are more durable. Temperature is automatically regulated in these hatcheries.

“Locally-made hatcheries are cheaper than the imported ones,” adds Oracha. Besides making traditional incubators and hatcheries, his farm also produces and sells chicks to poultry farmers from counties within Western Kenya.

He buys eggs from local farmers but says proper attention must be given to avoid the risk of sourcing unfertilised ones. Oracha, who is currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in agribusiness at Kisumu’s Great Lakes University of Kenya, says the enterprise has earned him a small fortune.

He plans to open more Kenter farm branches in other counties with the target of reaching more poultry farmers and fetching added income. “The youth should stop sleeping and go for the lucrative opportunities in agriculture. Young people must never undermine the potentials in farming. My venture is well-paying just like other white-collar jobs, though it requires a lot of dedication,” he says.

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