How a USAID Programme Expanded a Farmer’s Horizons
Andrew Makatiani initiated Lianfam as a small hatchery to breed and vend chicks to his neighbours in 2018.
Over time, he recognised untapped potential in the poultry value chain and seized the opportunity to expand his enterprise.
Two years into his business venture, Mr Makatiani decided to enter into an agreement with the farmers to whom he had been selling his chicks.
The agreement involved him repurchasing the mature chickens from these farmers for slaughter and subsequent meat supply to consumers.
“When I started, my knowledge of poultry farming was limited. However, I was eager to learn. At that time, the demand for chicks was very high, making it easier for me to enter the market,” Mr Makatiani said.
He invested Ksh150,000 in the business to acquire an incubator and a small generator. That’s how Lianfam Africa Ltd came into existence five years ago, starting with 100 chicks, which generated Ksh35,000 in revenue.
“Currently, we have expanded, supplying high-quality chicks to farmers and offering extension support. We collaborate with them to produce chicken, which we market as a value-added product. This provides them with market access,” he said.
The 39-year-old business information system professional mentioned that this approach has helped farmers eliminate brokers who offer unsustainable prices.
Although Lianfam began with just a few farmers, it has since contracted at least 3,500 producers and extended its services to Siaya, Busia, Vihiga, and Trans-Nzoia Counties.
Additionally, the farm has provided brooders to specific farmers they’ve trained. These farmers then supply chicks to others in their locality, with the mature birds returning to Lianfam upon reaching maturity.
“We have established a tripartite agreement where they receive high-quality seed from Lianfam and rear them for 30 days. They then sell them to their fellow farmers, and we, in turn, purchase the mature chickens from them,” Mr. Makatiani explained.
“After aggregating these chickens from farmers, we slaughter, dress, and supply them to our primary markets, including hospitals, schools, and individual consumers,” he added.
Mr Makatiani also revealed that they have finalised discussions with several supermarkets and will begin distributing their products to them before the end of the year.
The farmer’s efforts have garnered the attention of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), specifically through its programme, Feed the Future- Kenya Crops and Dairy Market System (KCDMS). This initiative has supported him in expanding his value-addition component and provided funding for outreach to more farmers.
Mr Makatiani credited KCDMS with playing a significant role in funding and training to expand his business. Currently, he can supply at least 1,500 chickens to the market each month, a substantial increase from the few hundred he could supply previously.
Moreover, the farm has generated employment opportunities for locals. Initially starting with five employees, it now boasts a permanent staff of 17 and employs an additional 17 on contract, all of whom directly benefit from the poultry business.
Mr Makatiani emphasised that the agreements they have with farmers are binding, and they ensure prompt payment to farmers before collecting chickens from their homesteads.
However, like any other business, Lianfam faces its share of challenges.
One notable challenge that Lianfam has encountered while working with farmers is that many of them lack the resources necessary for successful poultry farming.
According to the entrepreneur, a significant number of farmers are primarily focused on agriculture rather than agribusiness, making it challenging to transition them.
“We have also faced difficulties with farmers accessing extension services, as the extension department within the county governments is overwhelmed. We are working to bridge this gap so that our farmers can access these services,” he said.
Mr Makatiani advised aspiring poultry business investors to select a suitable location, opt for the right poultry breed, and establish an effective housing system.