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Kiambu Youth, Farmers Advised To Invest In Kienyeji Rearing To Pull Away From Jaws Of Poverty.

In Kenya and Africa at large, small scale farming is a way of life full of challenges but equally full of huge opportunities. The unprecedented population surge in Kenya has led to high rate of unemployment and depletion of land and natural resources. Many families are struggling to make ends meet.

The depletion of farm land has caused harsh economic times with most households in urban setups nowadays depending on less than a ¼-acre plots to meet their daily needs.

It is for this reason that Kiambu Sub-County Livestock Officer Margaret Gathoni advised Kiambu residents to better utilise their land through sustainable agricultural methods.

“One of the best opportunities for small-scale farmers can be through indigenous poultry production. Rearing kienyeji chicken is cheap, less labourious and have high returns. They not only produce quality meat but also have a ready market,” she said.

She added that indigenous chicken farming dominated the poultry farming of the country with about 90% of the population in Kenya keeping small flocks of chickens in free range.

“This type of farming is very flexible and requires very little space. Our people need to exploit this opportunity because it offers quick returns to the farmers in relatively simple ways of managing them,” said Gathoni.

She added that kienyeji rearing was one sure way to eradicate poverty and an 
opportunity for self-employment, becoming self-reliant and responsible members of the community. 

In this way, she said, there would be reduced cases of social ills as many more people especially the youth will be able to earn their living genuinely. The economic standard and quality of life of the resident of Kiambu County will hence improve as they can produce their organic food and earn some cash from the project.

“Nairobi and Kiambu County actually has a shortage of kienyeji eggs and chickens. Our poultry farmers have confirmed there is high demand for eggs and chicken and they are unable to meet the demand as a result of few farmers venturing in modern poultry farming. Most of our poultry farmers just rear less than 10 chickens for domestic use. Our rural farmers hardly sell or slaughter their chicken except during festival seasons or when an important guest visits. So, the few who rear more chickens are unable to satisfy the ever-increasing market,” she said.
To address the shortage, she encourages Kiambu youth to venture into this business so as to free themselves from the yoke of poverty and joblessness.

“It was apparent the youth cannot not continue complaining forever or feel sorry for themselves. Wriggling your way out of financial quagmire remains your only feasible solution. With a starting capital of Ksh. 1,500 you can buy two hens, a cock and some eggs and start your free-range rearing project,” said Gathoni.

She advised them that they could raise their chickens in a semi-intensive system with an area measuring 8X10 meters inside a wire mesh enclosure 8ft high. The poultry house can be constructed using locally available materials.
She said that the birds can spend most of the day within the restricted area and are only allowed to move outside for an hour a day to scavenge, an inborn trait. This system, she said, makes it easy to manage the chickens, requires a low level of labour and enables the farmer to control any loss of eggs as well as mortality rates and pests and diseases. They will also get ample time to do other chores.

The chicken manure can be applied to the garden to boost the soil fertility and grow vegetables like kale (sukumawiki) to sell for human consumption and as a supplementary feed for the chickens. Growing the kale and vegetables together is an example of the perfect symbiosis between animals and plants that far too often is avoided in today’s agricultural practices.

To achieve optimum production, the farmer can also feed their birds with high-nutrition feeds including kale, milling waste, green grass, kitchen waste, sunflowers, cereals, and omena-fish meal and kienyeji mash, a local home-made feed. While scavenging in the evening, the birds go for insects, wild seeds, and maggots, as well as ticks from around the cows’ pen, acting as a biological pest control. 

She promised the county’s assistance in organising seminars in partnership with the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) on how to rear chicken and seeking for readily available markets.

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