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Manufacturing poultry feeds keeps elderly women afloat

A group of elderly women in Kikuyu town, Kiambu County are surviving the hard economic times by manufacturing animal feeds which they use for their poultry business as well as sell surplus to the local farmers cheaply.

The 30 women have managed to make a fortune during the period given the high demand of poultry feeds in the area. They also have been able to reduce the cost of production of their poultry keeping business.

They import the raw materials like soya beans, cotton seeds, sunflower and maize from the neighbouring countries though at a high cost, which they use to manufacture the feeds.

Their journey began years ago with only Sh 10,000 which they saved in a Sacco and after some time, managed to secure a Sh 360,000 loan which they used to purchase a milling machine.

They used to keep chicken but the business was unprofitable due to high cost of feed before settling in value addition to cut on costs.

According to their chairlady Grace Njeri Kimani, they used to make the feeds manually which was ineffective and costly before they settled on purchasing the machine.

She said after production volumes picked up, they rented a bigger store for which they pay Sh10, 000 rent for running the milling and storage.

The demand is so high that farmers make orders for supplies in advance. The 23 elderly women and 18 youngsters run the activities of the factory in shifts to ensure they meet the demand.

She said their journey was inspired by a training forum by the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) on food formulation training which made them realise the gap in the market.

“We saw a gap in the poultry feeds market which we exploited. The market is big but expensive, especially because we have to import most of the raw materials for the production of the feed,” she said.

They manufacture at least 400 kilograms of feed daily which they sell to local communities at a cheaper price as compared to those supplied by giant millers.

Susan Njoki Mucheru, a member of the group said since the establishment of the value addition industry, their poultry business has improved as they now sell more eggs.

She said despite their resolve to make it in business, the market turbulence is threatening their business, by driving their production costs to the roof.

While the local market sells a kilo of the feed at Sh70, the group sells for Sh50.

She said with the necessary interventions and support, the rural woman has the capacity to drive the county economies to unprecedented levels.

“We have realised that our County has a favourable environment in producing the raw materials for making our feeds. Soya beans, sunflower and maize do well in Kiambu and that’s why we ask to be facilitated with some piece of land for growing them,” she said.

She called on the government to help them expand the business by purchasing land to construct a bigger factory that would see them supply animal feeds to the whole of Kiambu County.

Speaking after he visited the team, Thika MP Patrick Wainaina who helped them secure the start-up loan said the rural woman has the resolve to change lives if well supported.

He said empowerment of organised groups through offering them incentives and government funds is the main way to revolutionise the country’s crippled economy.

Wainaina, who is eyeing the Kiambu Gubernatorial seat, said his government would work towards establishing value addition to improve on prices of county products, their marketability as well as provide jobs for the residents.

He said value-addition promotes the government’s agenda on manufacturing and should be supported.

“The only way to revive this economy is to empower the rural people through interventions that will help them get engaged to work and help them earn.  Most of them have brilliant ideas that if well supported, especially in an organised manner, can accelerate development and create jobs,” said Wainaina.

By Muoki Charles

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