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Ethiopia: Young livestock keeper meets challenges and succeeds with chickens

Taye Mersa is a 25-year-old man living in Woliso, 100 kilometres from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. After graduating from the government university, Mr. Mersa decided to raise poultry. But like any young graduate wanting to become an entrepreneur, he faced challenges. 

Mr. Mersa started by buying chickens from an organization called Ethio-chicken. He successfully raised chickens at home despite difficulties with his parents, who complained that he messed up their courtyard with chicken droppings.

As is common in village chicken production, Mr. Mersa’s chickens depended almost entirely on scavenging for feed. Scavenged feeds are often deficient in protein, energy, and calcium and can result in reduced egg production. As a beginner, Mr. Mersa was not aware that supplementing his chickens’ diets with additional feeds could address these deficiencies and both increase egg production and improve resistance to disease. 

With the support of his friends, Mr. Mersa built a better henhouse and started building his poultry business, buying his first stock of layers. But unfortunately, he didn’t know exactly how to get feed for the chickens.   

He recalls, “I was not aware of all the systems that could boost my chickens’ production. I didn’t know about feeds and feeding strategy, diseases, and marketing strategies.”

Mr. Mersa didn’t lose heart. One day, he met Ajaib, the head of a farmer group, who invited him to a training on how to obtain feed and get access to the market. He learned a number of things at the training, including how best to rear poultry, and the best timing for selling chickens and chicken products. He learned about recommended types of housing, feed, and health care. He also learned about the importance of cleaning and disinfecting chicken housing every week, and the need to provide chickens with unlimited access to clean water. 

Finally, he learned about the need to vaccinate the birds regularly and ensure that the size of his flock corresponds to the amount of feed and space available for the chickens. 

Mr. Mersa says: “A good extension approach and personalized training are the two most valuable inputs to improve poultry production and productivity. To bring improvements to the system, these must be offered by professionals and continuous assessment and improvement has to be in place.”

He adds that such training should include information on selecting breeds, housing, nutrition, management, disease control, and biosecurity in village production systems. 

Mr. Mersa says that, if training and extension advice is not well-suited to the breed of chicken and the season, it will be difficult to succeed. 

With his friends’ support and advice, Mr. Mersa created a business plan and received a loan from the Ethiopian Commercial Bank. The loan enabled him to buy 100 layers and 100 broilers. Now, he regularly renews his stock and earns a healthy income. 

He bought a motorbike with a platform on the back to transport supplies to and from the market. 

Today, Mr. Mersa’s henhouse runs on solar energy, parts of the roof are covered, and he has many other projects underway.

In conclusion, Mr. Mersa says: “Anyone who wants a change in his or her life can start a simple business with minimum finances. Generating income requires a good business plan, including technical support and trainings. The only thing needed is ambition and commitment. For this case, I am a living model of a businessman, especially in poultry farming. My motto is ‘Hard work results in success!'”

This resource is undertaken with the financial support of IFC as part of the Scaling Poultry Radio Program in Ethiopia.