Steve Kamwa is among the few Kenyan youths who have taken different career paths and is scaling the heights of agribusiness.
Contrary to the myths associated with farming among the young generation, Kamwa discovered it to be a worthy venture and thus opted to try his hand at it.
We visited his Kamsa Poultry Farm located at Kapuonja village in Kisumu West sub-county recently and he spared time to narrate to us the journey to his business success.
Moved by the aspirations to contribute to the efforts of addressing food insecurity in the country, he began his poultry keeping business in 2014.
“I realised that food insecurity is a major problem affecting our country and I wanted to make a difference by contributing towards addressing the challenge,” he recalls.
The former raw material supervisor at Unga Ltd used Sh40,000 saved up from his job as seed capital. Armed with that as seed capital and a bit of knowledge on poultry farming, he was good to go.
With a conviction of raking in good profits out of the venture, he acquired about 30 local birds which he bought at Sh150 each and the balance spent in setting up a structure to house the stock and other requisite equipment.
The business picked up well and a few months thereafter he added more Kari kienyeji birds and the stock grew gradually.
“I discovered that poultry keeping is a profitable venture that has low risks and requires less capital to start compared to other agricultural ventures such as horticulture,” says Kamwa.
He later resigned from work in 2015 in order to give the poultry farming his full focus.
Earlier this year, in January, his eyes opened to another opportunity, introducing laying birds after realising there was high demand for eggs locally.
And from the proceeds of selling the first batch of the kienyenji birds, the farmer diversified into rearing hybrid layers.
He first bought a battery cage with a capacity for over 1, 000 birds. Then he acquired 1, 200 day-old layers from Isinya Feeds Ltd in Kajiado county at Sh 100 each.
Today, Kamwa’s poultry farm has gained popularity in the area and he is widely known as one of the top eggs suppliers in the lakeside city.
Currently, his farm has 1,200 layers and 500 kienyeji birds, which are about three weeks old. He keeps the Kari kienyeji birds specifically for meat and as a matter of routine, Kamwa is ready to make another order of 500 kienyeji chickens so that he doesn’t run out of stock.
The layers take about five months to mature and actively lay for another 18 months before they can be disposed.
Normally, his day starts at 5am, when he is helped by his two farm assistants to clean feeding troughs and drinkers. They also dust the cages, disinfect and clean the poultry house before finally feeding the birds.
He derives a lucrative income from sale of eggs and mature kienyeji chickens.
On average, he collects and sells 35 trays of eggs daily, each tray going for Sh300 in the retail market. Meaning in a month he can take home at least Sh300, 000 from the sales.
Kamwa, 33, has since established a wide client base where he obtains frequent orders. His potential customers are local retailers and a few hoteliers within Kisumu town.
“There is absolutely an overwhelming market for eggs locally and sometimes I even experience a deficit in supply,” says the cheerful farmer.
He sells the chickens mainly to eateries in Kisumu town when they weigh about 2kg.
At his farm, a mature live hen of 2kg goes for Sh650 while a cockerel of the same weight is sold at Sh700.
“Poultry business requires a steady flow of capital so I find it convenient selling to the eateries because they pay immediately. Big hotels tend to take long in remitting their payments,” he explains.
Still, he recommends that poultry farmers must buy input from reputable companies whose quality is guaranteed to avoid the temptation of being blackmailed by brokers.
He says that high standards of hygiene must be also be maintained to keep the birds free of unnecessary disease outbreaks.
He advises that the birds also need regular vaccination against common infectious diseases such as gumboro, Newcastle, foul typhoid and foul pox as per the schedule provided by qualified vets.
“Overstocking of the poultry house must also be avoided so that the spread of diseases is controlled,” says Kamwa.
On average, he feeds the birds twice a day, in the morning and evening.
On daily basis, the layers can consume up to 150 kg feeds and the Kari birds a 50 kg sack of feed depending on their age.
The farmer is appealing to the county government to deploy more credible veterinary officers who can correctly tip farmers on the various farming practices.
“Some agro-dealers have taken the responsibility of advising farmers on agricultural techniques due to shortage of competent vets locally. Many farmers have ended up getting wrong advice as a result,” he adds.
Despite the notable achievement, Kamwa points out, excessive importation of eggs, a shortage of experienced vets at the community level, poor quality of input, high feed prices, poultry diseases and late payment by customers as the top challenges facing the business.
He decries that uncontrolled importation of cheap eggs from Uganda is a major challenge facing Kenyan poultry farmers and appeals to the government to offer necessary intervention.
“The government should introduce a policy that regulates the market for eggs. We are suffering because the low-priced imported eggs have flooded the local market leading to unfair competition,” says Kamwa.
Likewise, he says a good farmer must be willing to embrace sophisticated technology that comes in handy with continuous growth of the sector.
“Farming is a profitable venture, but it is advisable for one to first seek proper knowledge how the industry works in a given area before going into it,” he explains.
The farmer’s plan is to have 50,000 layers and further develop into an integrated farm-comprising horticulture and dairy in the next 10 years.