Hervé Domagni walks around a warehouse filled with thousands of chickens. He pours feed from a metal bucket into feeders hanging from the ceiling. The chickens cluck noisily as they push for space around the feeders or peck at loose feed that scatters on the floor.
Mr. Domagni and his wife Ella Marcelle Néné have grown a successful chicken business in Agnibilékrou, in eastern Cote d’Ivoire, although the couple are separated by 300 kilometres, as Mrs. Néné and their children live in Abidjan.
Neither studied farming. They started their poultry farm after working at unprofitable jobs in the city. But both feel their skills make for a strong business partnership. Mr. Domagni rears the chickens with a focus on growing his flock, while Mrs. Néné handles marketing: finding customers and marketplaces to sell eggs.
Mr. Domagni studied accounting and then managed a telephone kiosk. He says, “Regarding myself, I have applied some of the techniques I learned to manage the business.” His wife handles the communications: how to market the eggs and convince people to buy them.
Mr. Domagni didn’t earn enough money in his previous job to support his family. So he returned to his home town of Agnibilékrou, which is in a livestock farming area. He says, “I wanted to try this activity. I talked to my wife about it and this is how it started.”
He began with 20 chickens, which he increased to 500. Now he has 2,000—and plans to grow his poultry business to 30,000 birds.
Mrs. Néné says it hasn’t been easy to start the business. She says: “At the beginning, it was difficult because, at the same time, I was looking for a job elsewhere. With time, along came our child.… We started to think together to develop this activity. It was like this that we started to bring the eggs to Abidjan, and I was looking after the marketing.”
Mr. Domagni has no training in rearing poultry, but learned from watching his fellow farmers. He explains, “When they were installing the incubator, for example, I assisted them. I have been able to see how it works with the chicks, their management, [and] their growth until they lay eggs.”
He adds that finance was also a challenge at first, but after expanding from 20 to 2,000 layers, the business is running much more smoothly.
This story is based on a video from Agribusiness TV, called “Cote d’Ivoire: Spouses and associates in poultry farming.” To watch the video: