Martina Bugriba | March 1, 2020
Drought, erratic rainfall, and prolonged dry seasons have drastically reduced maize and rice yields in the Northern Region of Ghana in recent years. So farmer Mba Wulana started rearing guinea fowl to ensure a more reliable income. He sells up to 85 birds in bulk every six months to earn about $2,500 US. Rearing guinea fowl requires good practices for hatching and feeding the young keets. Mr. Wulana places up to 20 eggs in a broken, oval-shaped pot with a grass nest inside. Guinea fowl hens hatch their keets after 28 days, and he turns the eggs continuously during this period to ensure they hatch.
It’s a chilly harmattan morning and Mba Wulana is energetically walking through his farm, a bag of guinea fowl feed on his head. The 35-year-old farmer is carrying maize to feed his birds. He smiles and says, “I just went to pick some grains for my guinea fowl.” He supplements the grain feed with termites from anthills.
Mr. Wulana farms in Taha, a community in Sagnarigu municipality in the Northern Region of Ghana. He inherited a farm from his father 20 years ago and has been growing maize and rice for a long time. But recently, he started raising guinea fowl because of drought, erratic rainfall, and prolonged dry seasons, all of which drastically reduced his yields.
He needed an alternative way to earn income to support his family and raising guinea fowl was an easy choice because he was already experienced in raising the birds.
He explains, “I started rearing guinea fowls with my father at the age of 15 and that was the time I acquired the skill.” He adds, “I am able to produce up to 85 guinea fowl every six months.”
Mr. Wulana sells each guinea fowl for 30 Ghanaian cedi ($5.60 US), for an annual income of about 5,000 Ghanaian cedi ($935 US), a lot more than the 1,600 cedis ($299 US) he was making growing maize and rice.
Apart from selling guinea fowl, Mr. Wulana also earns money from selling guinea fowl eggs. He uses the income to pay for his children’s education and to take care of the family. Guinea fowl eggs also serve as a source of protein for his children.
He prefers to sell the birds once every six months to earn income all at once. He explains, “I sell them in bulk so that I can use the money for something meaningful.”
There are many benefits to rearing guinea fowl. For example, Mr. Wulana collects guinea fowl droppings in a container and uses them as manure to increase crop yields. He says, “Not only does guinea fowl farming bring income, it also saves me from buying fertilizer.”
To increase the number of guinea fowl on his farm, Mr. Wulana buys eggs from nearby communities. He only buys eggs that are big with rough markings because, in his experience, they have a hatching rate of 99-100 per cent, higher than eggs with smoother surfaces.
To maintain a high rate of hatching, Mr. Wulana uses traditional methods such as placing up to 20 eggs in a broken, oval-shaped pot with a grass nest inside. Guinea fowl hens hatch their keets after 28 days, and Mr. Wulana turns the eggs continuously during this period.
He explains, “I normally remove the guinea fowl and turn the eggs each evening, especially when the weather is warm so that they would be fully turned for them to be able to hatch well.”
After 28 days, Mr. Wulana moves the keets to a farm hut and begins to feed them three times a day. He was trained by veterinary staff in his area how to feed guinea fowl.
Sayyid Alhassan is the chief executive officer of Alhassan Farms and an expert on raising guinea fowl. He says the mortality rate in traditional rearing is about 60 per cent, and that farmers should be trained how to reduce this rate by rearing the birds with modern methods. These include using incubators to hatch more eggs, better feeding and housing practices, and regular vaccinations.
Mr. Wulana’s income has improved dramatically since he began rearing guinea fowl. He says, “I bought two plots using money from guinea fowl farming. I have also begun molding blocks to begin constructing my house.”
This project was implemented by Farm Radio International Ghana through Uniterra, a program of WUSC and CECI. Uniterra is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, www.international.gc.ca
Photo by Nina Laflamme Photography.