The bamboo is a naturally growing tree in the Mount Kenya forest. It forms a buffer zone between the rain forest and the alpine grass as one approaches the snow-capped peaks of Batian, Nelion and Lenana.
The grass like bamboo is planted as an ornament in some posh restaurants and recreational facilities and has also been used as roof gutters to collect water by the ageing generation. Few have looked at it as a source of revenue but not so with Peter Macharia from Muranga County who has turned the bamboo stalk into a lucrative source of income.
Have you ever thought that the bamboo trunk can be used as feeder for poultry? Well, meet Macharia, a youth from Murang’a in the Chuka Open Air Market in Tharaka Nithi County and you will change your perspective towards bamboo.
KNA coincidentally came across Macharia, a 37 year old father of two at the market and could hardly recognize what he was selling, but on showing interest, the youth managed to enlighten and brief us on the use of ‘mwarati’ as they call it in Chuka. Mwarati is a chicken feeder made from the bamboo stem known as ‘busina’ in the local dialect.
After completing his secondary school, Macharia sought formal employment but luck was not on his side and he tried his hand in farming and poultry keeping, which was also a challenge due to lack of capital and unreliable rainfall in home area.
After getting married, circumstances forced him to think outside the box in order to put food on the table. He has tried many other businesses without much success but last year, he came up with the idea of making a pocket friendly chicken feeder for poultry keepers. First he tried to sell in Murang’a but soon moved to Embu and then Chuka where there is a more dense population and a better potential market.
“This thing just came to mind and I decided to try my hand in it. What I like about it is that at the moment, I am the only one doing this business in Chuka town hence creating an expansive clientele and handsome profits,” said Macharia enthusiastically.
The youth disclosed that the task of making the mwarati is easy since it takes only one day to make it. He said that he likes his job since he is unique in his own way.
“I started this job back in 2018 and am proud of it since my family survives on it. The mwarati comes in different sizes. We have the small one going for 100 the medium one for 250 and the big one for 300 shillings,” said Macharia.
He mentioned that a poultry keeper could choose the mwarati according to preference. “If one is interested in one with both food and water for the chicken, well and good but you can also decide to buy one that only has space for food or water,” he said adding that he is confident about his product because the bamboo stalk is long lasting and his clientele base keeps growing by the day as more and more people kept coming for it.
However, as in any business Macharia, faces challenges but these are not to deter him soon. He hopes to overcome with time. He says the main challenge is the cost of transporting his products from Murang’a to Chuka.
“Every business has its drawbacks. My major challenge is how to carry mwarati, but I am not to quit the business soon. To compliment the small earnings, I buy foodstuffs that are cheap in Chuka and sell them to traders in Muranga,” said Macharia.
He disclosed to us that the long distance travel really eats into his profits and hopes to acquire a store in the open market where he could be storing them to cut on the cost of transportation.
Macharia is encouraging the youth not to give up in life just because they could not get formal employment, adding that not everyone was destined to join universities and colleges because self-employment is the future of this nation.
“You can take me as an example. I had to shift my mind from getting formal employment and my business enables me to put food on the table and pay school fees for my children,” he advised.
He further tells young men that apart from motorbike riding, they could also venture into other sources of income after some innovation.
His final word to the youth is “Engage your innovation skills by moving around and listening to the needs of the people. Do not just idle around taking cheap brews and smoking weed,” he concludes.
By Vallary Achieng and David Mutwiri