My name is James Makini from Keroka, Kenya. I am 28 years old. When I was 8 years old I went to greet my grandmother, who gave me a gift of a hen. I raised it, and with the help of our neighbors cock, it laid fertilized eggs and hatched them into chicks.
As the hens multiplied, I began to sell eggs to buy stationery, rebuild our hut and pay for my school fees and uniform. Little did I know that 15 years later I would share my experiences with three of my colleagues at the University of Nairobi one evening after unsuccessfully searching for an internship. Everybody said, “Wow! Why can’t we start a poultry-keeping initiative in rural areas in Kenya that will empower youth, women and children?”
Our hope was that the project would help them be able to afford basic needs like I did when I was young. We called the initiative “One Hen Campaign Project.” The aim is to train women and youth to organize in groups on entrepreneurship, agribusiness and poultry management for a month. Then we give each group member one hen in a coop that he/she is required to rear as part of the training.
At the end of the year, after the hens have multiplied, each member returns 2 hens to their group so that other members can benefit.
For children, the approach is through schools where we mentor and train them to embrace agriculture at an early age. The average age of a Kenyan farmer is above 50 years, and the 2009 census shows that out of a population of approximately 38 million people, youth (15-35 years) and children (0-14 years) together represent 78%. This huge proportion of the Kenyan population has not embraced farming, which is a big threat to food security in Kenya.
We give each pupil one hen in a coop which they rear as a co-curricular activity. At the end of the year they are required to return 2 hens so that those following them can also benefit.
This program will not only provide a source of income and nutrition for participants’ families, the students and pupils will learn basic entrepreneurial skills, applied math, financial management skills, personal initiative, the value of saving and a sense of social responsibility as they become the sponsors of subsequent years of the program.
So far the One Hen Project has created:
- Self-employment for youth and women and a source of income
- A source of food security
- A reduction in dependency ratios as almost every member of a family is economically active
The project has enabled the maximization of use of small land sizes as chicken rearing requires little space. It has also enabled the imparting of basic financial skills to beneficiaries. Members can now maintain business records thanks to our financial management training and seminars.
The One Hen Project has been given global recognition; In 2014 I was among the inaugural team of President Obama’s Mandela Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Finally, the project has created opportunities along the poultry value chain and together with all our beneficiaries we formed a chicken farmers’ cooperative society to jointly market our produce (chicken, eggs and chicken manure). We have also started making our own feed for our chicken and selling it to other farmers in rural Kenya. This activity has already been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
We hope to win the USD $5,000 grant as it will enable us give another 500 youth, women and children a hen in a coop which they will raise and then use to support other beneficiaries as the chickens multiply. We will use the $5,000 as follows:
- Buying nails, wire-mesh and timber for making a complete coop will cost us $6 per coop. We aim to make 500 coops, which will cost a total of $3,000
- Buying 500 hens at $4 per hen for a total of $2,000
We look forward to finding investors to help us expand our enterprise through supporting our feed mill, opening up our distribution network and helping us set up a chicken meat abattoir.
Blogpost and picture submitted by James Makini (Keroka, Kenya) – jamesmakini[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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