They will help launch a poultry project with the Mwaita Co-Op
By Diego Flammini
A group of Ontario producers are traveling to Africa to help local farmers produce chickens.
Stewart and Donald Skinner, brothers and hog farmers from near Listowel, Ont., will fly to Kenya in March to help a local co-op raise chickens to meet a buyer’s needs. Jen Christie, founder of the Ag Women's Network, will join them on the trip.
The Ontarians will help select eight farmers from the 100-member Mwaita Co-Operative who can demonstrate the necessary skills and resources to care for a flock of 120 chickens.
“The plan is that the co-op will provide the chicken feed and the chicks, and the farmer would supply the facility and the labour,” Stewart told Farms.com. “We’re going to place about 120 chicks per week over an eight-week period. We hope that, in nine weeks, they’ll be the first supply of chickens and those families can provide the co-op customer with broiler meat.”
The Ontario producers will act a resource for the Kenyan farmers. The trio also hope to bring hard copies of ag literature with them for the local producers to use.
“I’m asking people in my network if they have any printed material I can bring with me,” Stewart said. “One retired chicken farmer is giving me one of his poultry disease manuals. We’ll do a little bit of extension work, but our role is to help the co-op run the business with good business sense, and not to tell them what to do.”
The trip will be Stewart’s third time in Kenya since 2013.
Prior visits focused on business training and helping dairy farmers from the same co-op market their milk in a better way.
“Selling together allowed the farmers to get paid more for their milk,” he said. “A lot of farmers there never even viewed dairy farming as a business, but milk is such a staple of the Kenyan diet and is even used as currency.
“If you want to go to high school you have to pay a pretty substantial school fee, so the dairy farmers can work with a milk deduction to cover school costs.”
The Ontario producers are fundraising to help cover farm costs in Kenya.
They’re hoping to raise $5,000 by the time they depart. So far, their campaign has raised $1,400.
About $3,000 will be used to help buy chicks, feed and vet supplies. The remaining $2,000 would help buy a small flock of breeding hens and an egg incubator to help the operation become sustainable.