Gambia’s Appetite for Chicken Inspires Rise in Poultry Farming
Poultry farming is becoming one the biggest business opportunities for young Gambians. This is thanks mainly to the locals’ growing appetite for chicken and eggs. Across restaurants and fast food chains, spicy chicken wings and fried chicken are always popular picks on the menu.
Over the last five years, a growing number of young people have ventured into poultry farming to help meet the chicken and eggs demands.
Modou Lamin Fatty, popularly known as ML is one of the popular newcomers. His idea of starting a poultry farm came in 2017 when he met some poultry farmers whose stories inspired him to venture into the business. What stood out for him was the fact that most of the poultry products consumed by locals were from outside the country.
“I realized that 95% of poultry products that are consumed in the country were imported when they can be produced locally. Then I thought why not I started a poultry business and give the get the consumers to eat home-grown products.
ML started his ML’s Poultry Farm in 2018 with 33 chickens with some little money he had gathered, 90% from his family. Within a few months, the numbers grew to 100 chickens. He started with broiler product, producing over 700 broilers between February and June last year. He later changed his module to producing eggs and currently, the farm has 200 layers producing five to six crates of eggs daily. His clients include hotels and restaurants.
Besides producing broiler chickens, eggs, poultry manure and day-old chicks, ML’s Poultry Farm offers poultry consultancy services to aspiring poultry farmers and up-and-coming one.
ML’s growing success in the poultry business has been recognised by different organisations. He was granted US$1000 by the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) for his poultry business. He also won the National Youth Award organized by the Global Youth Innovation Project (GYIN Gambia) with a D20, 000 cash prize. ML was also a TAF Africa Start-Up Competition runner-up, winning half-a-million dalasi cash prize.
Though ML’s Poultry Farm is rapidly growing, ML is concerned about high cost of ingredients and materials he uses.
Tijan Jarju, the CEO of Gamchick Poultry Farm (GPF) is another young Gambian marking his marks in poultry business. He started his business in 2017, focusing on both egg and chicken production which provides for a large market range. The farm also produces manure as a by-product.
His initial challenges included financial constraint and lack of correct information about poultry farming.
“When I started I made many wrong decisions and wasted money because of wrong information I received.”
Tijan no wants to use this business as a means of creating employment and contributing to the national economy.
“This is a business that plans on distributing eggs and chicken to restaurants, home delivery food centers, hotels, schools, clubs, bakeries, catering businesses and supermarkets.”
Tijan is striving to achieve a 65 percent profit margin, and make more plans to keep his payroll as low as possible while he grows.
According to Muhammed Jagana, the President of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, poultry production will have a major impact on the Gambia’s economic growth, recognising the growing interest of young people like ML and Tijan in poultry business.
“If we promote our local content, develop our own local poultry industry, we will save in terms of the foreign exchange in the country and that it will also help our balance of payment issue.”
Jagana said there is a ready market available as people consume poultry products everyday and they are using various supply chains including hotels and restaurants.
He called for the need to support local poultry producers in order for them to deal with the imports, adding that locally-produced products are healthier than the imported ones. “By the time they produce and by the time it gets to your table for you to consume is a much shorter period than the imported one. But the industry faces quite a lot challenges and I think we need to look at it from a holistic point of view so that we can support the entire local industry grow. We’ve seen other African countries how they have supported their own domestic industries and this is not only about poultry. It is about various industries that can have synergy effect on the economy and we need to support them.”
Lamin Saine, the Deputy Director at the Department of Livestock Services recognised the huge demand for poultry meat in the country. He however cited marketing as a major constraint facing local poultry producers.
Saine said the government’s intervention is needed in terms of policies and support in improving on the local feed mills and feed millers and take some decisions in the area of importation by reducing some importation to certain percentage. But he challenged that the National Cooperative Poultry Producers should give assurance that they can deliver to meet up the required importation in poultry production.
“The government will always want these things to be available to the citizens and therefore for us to convince the government we need to double our efforts to better organise these poultry farmers and already we have a very strong cooperative around and they are making all efforts to make some improvements in the area of marketing.”