A branded three-wheeler vehicle (Tuk Tuk) stops at a compound in Kisian, Kisumu County, and soon, two crates are offloaded by a man dressed in a white overcoat.
Inside the crates are tens of day-old chicks delivered to a farmer.
Soon, the farmer and the worker from the firm named Chicken Basket count the chicks one by one before the tuk tuk zooms off to another farm.
On this day, the firm is distributing the day-old chicks to several farmers. On another day, Chicken Basket would be distributing feeds to farmers or collecting eggs and chickens, which are added value to and then delivered to clients.
Chicken Basket is a one-stop shop for poultry matters and is run by Abisai Nandi.
“I started as a poultry farmer some three years ago, specialising in hatching and selling day-old chicks,” recalls Nandi.
The business in which he had pumped in Sh200,000 from his savings, with the money going on construction of chicken houses, incubator and feeds, among others, did well as demand for Kari Kienyeji chicks was high then.
“The business was good and I even added two incubators of 1,200 egg capacity in January 2015,” recalls the 31-year-old, who was selling chicks at Sh90.
However, challenges soon set in. Sometimes he would buy fertilised eggs from farmers, which ended up to be of poor quality.
“The eggs produced low quality chicks that when I sold to farmers, there were so many complaints. The chicks were prone to infections, some had stunted growth and there was high death rate generally.”
Nandi says he had to offer free chicks to farmers as he tried to save his business.
“I did the maths and realised I was making losses.”
But as he grappled with sustaining the business, Nandi has seen another opportunity.
“The farmers I was dealing with had intimated to me that they were also facing challenges of getting quality feeds, extension services and selling their products. I realised that I can start a firm, work to deliver all these services to them,” says the 2010 holder of Diploma in Business Administration from Kenya Institute of Management.
However, as he readied to start, there was a challenge as the kind of business he envisioned required a huge capital.
SOLD IDEA TO TWO FRIENDS
He sold the idea to two of his friends and they came on board, helping him raise capital. One of them offered to buy the branded Tuk Tuk.
Nandi registered Chicken Basket in 2016 as a business based in Kisumu town, and currently, he works with 200 contracted farmers from Kisumu, Bungoma, Vihiga, Nandi, Siaya, Migori and Homa Bay counties.
“I get farmers I work with through referrals though I also market my business in farmer events. Our three pillars are quality input, training and finally marketing,” says Nandi, who is the CEO.
Nandi gets day-old Rainbow Rooster chicks from Kuku Chicks in Eldoret and sells them at Sh100 to farmers. On the other hand, he sources Kuroilers from Uganda.
“I also have a partnership with Bidco Feeds. I get orders from farmers and the company supplies me the feeds. I then distribute the chick, Kienyeji and layers mashes,” says the former administration officer at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisii, who quit his job to farm.
Farmers who buy chicks from him get free training and vet services from a veterinary officer he works with.
“Before a farmer buys our chicks, we tell them what it takes to raise them until they start laying or are ready for sale if they are for meat. We also take them through feeding regime, diseases to watch out for, among other things,” he says, adding the veterinary officer normally vaccinates the birds for farmers and treats them in case of disease outbreak.
Nandi further offers market of produce from the farmers he has contracted.
“We buy birds from contracted farmers at Sh500 and slaughter at Mamboleo abattoir, pack in branded containers and do free household delivery via our branded Tuk Tuk. A 1.8kg chicken goes for Sh650. A kilo of wings and liver at Sh350, gizzards Sh400 and drumsticks and necks cost Sh450 and Sh300 respectively.”
In a good day, he sells up to 50 birds to hotels, homes and eateries in the county, besides other products like eggs and drumsticks. He also gets monthly or weekly orders of up to 200 live birds.
He has employed four salespersons who deliver the birds earning him good income in a month.
REQUIRES RESOURCES AND KNOWLEDGE
“I am now dealing with a wider market, which is better than my initial business. Right now if I have an order of 1,000 birds, I check the system and make calls to farmers to have the birds delivered. Initially, I would not honour such an order,” says Nandi, who has attended various agricultural forums to gain knowledge in agribusiness.
“I started keeping the chickens because I knew I had market and reliable source of feeds and vet services. All they do is to call and ask me to prepare my birds for sale, and they come and pick,” says the member of Agia Women Group.
Amos Amenya, an agronomist at the Lake Basin Development Authority, says it is cheaper to get day-old chicks and sell them as one doesn’t incur any cost on feeds, brooding, vaccination and space for poultry housing.
Prof Matthew Dida, a lecturer at Maseno University’s Department of Agriculture, says the business model offers one better control and potential to achieve success in the whole poultry value chain.
“With this model, one is in-charge and able to curb the challenges that arise in poultry production, management and marketing. He has the advantage of turning the gaps into opportunities,” says Prof Dida.
He, however, says this kind of model needs a lot of resources and knowledge to deal with challenges that might arise in the whole poultry value chain.
He says that partnership with financial institutions and expertise in whole poultry value management can help edge out the potential challenges.