December 28th, 2021

Defining a role for youth in Kenyan poultry value chains:

For 2SCALE, the youth have and will always be at the centre of all activities that we undertake. As an inclusive business accelerator, it is imperative that in all of our interventions, we endeavour to give voice and opportunity to the youth. This youth centric focus is not only limited to 2SCALE, but also to the SMEs that we partner with across Africa.

One such SME that is always putting youth at the forefront of their operations is Homerange Poultry Kenya.

A New Farmer Extension Model

In Early 2020, the company came up with a novel concept called Village Poultry Health and Extension Services Agents (VPHESA). This concept would engage the youth (after rigorous training) to be mobile input distributors of chicken products as well as offer extension services to farmers on behalf of HPK. In return, the agents would earn commissions from their sales and extension services offered, a scenario that is a win-win for booth the agents and HPK.

Ian Mutwiri, CEO of Homerange Poultry said,

After the training, the VPHESA agents were equipped with overalls and HPK identification badges to enhance their credibility and acceptance by farmers on the ground. The inputs that are sold by the VPHESA agents are also from HPK, helping to make the value chain vertically integrated, which is also aimed at promoting business sustainability and market share.

Reception of VPHESA by Farmers

Grace Syombua, 32, is one of the VPHESA agents who has already hit the ground running in Makueni County. She was a business lady who second hand clothes and a small-scale farmer but upon hearing about VPHESA from a friend, she enrolled for the training program by HPK. After completing the 3-month training program and passing the exam, Grace officially commenced work in November 2021.

“I myself am excited to get the knowledge from the training as I had chicken but all of them died due to the disease. If I had the knowledge I have now, they would still be alive. The business is gathering steam and so far, I have 25 serious farmers who I serve. The margins are really good and on a good day I can make up to KES 600 per day. The only challenge I have is the transport as some of the farms are very far from each other which means I have to spend more to get there and this eats into my margins. Other than that, this is an excellent option for youth like me,” says Grace.

Another challenge that is also prevalent in the areas serviced by the VPHESA agents is the fact that there are some companies that try to undercut the competition by offering lower prices, albeit with the products being of lower quality.

“The thing that sets us apart as VPHESA is the quality of inputs that we offer as well as the fact that the same person is working as an input provider, extension officer as well as an aggregator for the chicken when ready. An additional value add is that most of the agents are people that are known to the farmers are most are drawn from the localities they serve, hence creating a personal touch,” explains Ian.

So far, the VPHESA rollout is off to a promising start in Makueni. If the current positive outlook continues, the plan is to scale up into the other counties HPK is operational in and engage more youth in poultry farming. Stay tuned for more updates on progress here.

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