Kakuma is a fast-growing town in North-Western Kenya hosting refugees, humanitarian workers and native Turkana people. It is approximately 120km from Lodwar airport linked by a tarmac road that has been newly constructed. There are also other groups of people living in Kakuma for work and business-related pursuits. The town is mostly hot with temperatures ranging from 280 C to as high as 360 C and the land is arid with little vegetation. In such a climatic zone, one would first presume pastoralism is the only agricultural venture with sustainable returns. However, my recent visit has taught me that there are as many possibilities in Kakuma as people are living there. I spent one of my afternoons in a poultry farm that feeds hundreds of Kakuma residents and noted some key lessons from my conversation with the farm owner, Mr Raphael Ewoi.
Raphael is capitalizing on his educational background in nutrition and dietetics, training in poultry production, hydroponics, and agribusiness management to run a 2,200-capacity chicken farm. His farm sits adjacent to his home in a fenced plot where he has constructed two shelters that make a home to his birds. In his words, “chicks require moderation of heat, lighting and water to survive.” A chicken farm must therefore be well balanced to provide the right quantity of each of these three needs at different stages of a chicken’s life. “There should as well be proper feeding and a vaccination program for your chicks,” notes Raphael in emphasis to how capital-intensive chicken raring can become.
Right from hatching, through brooding to maturity, the birds need dedicated care as that given to a pet. One may choose to specialize in hatching, brooding or raring based on their gifting in handling chicks. Raphael’s Poultry farm has a ready market in Kakuma where he supplies to the neighbourhood, hotels, refugee camp and to members of NGOs who often order already slaughtered chicken. Other than chicken sales, Raphael also sells guano manure whenever he is clearing his farm. On his bucket list, Raphael is on a mission to expand his farm to accommodate 5,000 more chickens and create more jobs in his poultry farm. He believes white meat is the way to go and he is charting the way from Kakuma to the world.