Kaguyu youth group from Kiaritha in Kirinyaga Central Sub County has picked on a unique business, bull fattening for sale, to uplift its member’s financial standards.
The 23 group members, mainly youth, came together in 2013 and settled on the idea of bull fattening after exploring many others that they had raised, for their income generating project.
The group, that runs as a Community Based Organization was formed by the young people who felt the need to utilize their time profitably rather than wasting it by idling at shopping centers.
The trade largely involves buying bullocks, feeding them for between three and six months and then selling them at a profit.
Nyamu, one of the group members, said they started with only two bullocks but so far, they are fattening twenty at a go due to high demand.
“We had a slow start, before we received funding from the Youth Enterprise fund, every member contributed Sh1,500 for putting up a shed. The members also contributed a total of another Sh40,000 which we used to buy the two bulls for start-up”. He added.
“We would go for a three-month old bullock at Sh20, 000 and later sell it at Sh50, 000 thus giving us a profit which we ploughed back to the business,” said the area assistant chief Justus Mwai Mwari who is also a member of the group.
Mwari said they first applied for Sh50, 000 from the Youth Enterprise Fund, which they promptly paid back, after which they applied and received another Sh200,000.
The group has since grown and diversified to also dealing in dairy cattle. They currently have eleven cows.
The diversified investment has also had a positive impact on the members arising from sale of milk which earns members some good profit.
“The group sells about 100 liters of milk daily. Members also buy the commodity but at a subsidized cost as opposed to non-members,” said Mwari.
He says they have also made a huge profit from selling calves at Sh15,000 each, further increasing their benefits.
From the proceeds, some of the members have been able to start their own businesses, which has inspired many other youths from the community to follow suit and initiate their own programmes.
For Nyamu, the project has enabled him to open a shop at Kaguyu trading centre out of proceeds from the group. “I am now able to provide my family with basic needs,” he says. “The youths who initially appeared desperate are today a respected lot in the area”. He noted with satisfaction.
We are also inviting new members to join our group for more sharing of development ideas. We do not discriminate against anybody, as even persons with disabilities are incorporated in our group, added Nyamu.
The members have also come up with a table banking panel where they lend money to members. They usually do a follow up on the expenditure to ensure the money is used for the project the member tabled for funding. They describe this as an effort to enhance responsibilities among members.
However, the group has had challenges including falling milk prices, translating into less income for the group.
“There have also been losses when our cows miscarry due to stress which may be as a result of nutritional deficiencies,” said Mwari.
The other challenge is the use of chaff cutters for feeds, which use electricity. Power outages force the group to cut the feeds manually which is slow and tiresome.
At the same time, dairy animal feed for high production of milk is costly, posing a major challenge to the group, which forces the team to turn to Napier grass and other locally available vegetation for the cows to feed on, resulting in lower milk production.
To ensure the smooth running of the project, Mwari is urging the county government of Kirinyaga to expedite on the proposed animal feeds factory for the region. “I also call on the government to subsidize the costs of animal feeds in order to benefit more farmers in the county,” he said.
The long-term vision of the youth group is to build a milk processing plant to add value to their production and benefit area residents.
“We would like to open a milk industry and increase significantly the current number of dairy cows. We are also looking forward to opening a SACCO which will help members save and borrow loans to start projects at lower interest rates,” said Mwari.
Meanwhile, the bull fattening project is still to be expanded and we intend to continue with it alongside the dairy project, noted the assistant chief, adding, “We intend to make sure that our children inherit the project as its benefits remain evident.”
Photos by Irungu Mwangi.