Ben Muita says the size should not be an excuse not to do profitable business. From his small plot, he earns Sh50,000 a month
As other farmers agonise over shrinking size of land, Ben Muita, from Maragua, Murang’a County, is least worried.
He earns an average profit A of Sh50,000 a month from 25 by 25 feet piece of land. The cost of production and labour is also minimal compared to the unpromising maize and beans widely planted in the area.
In this small piece of land stands a structure designed to accommodate hundreds of chicken, a few goats and cows.
He has designed the animal pen in such a way that it has two elevations—one, which he refers as second floor, is the chicken coop.
“The hens are a crossbreed of indigenous and Kenbrew layers. I did the crossbreeding here to maximise production of eggs and meat,” says the 39-year-old father of one.
He opted for this type of farming due to harsh weather conditions, lack of irrigation water and limited land.
“I got fed up with planting maize and beans. The crops would wither at flowering stage leading to major losses. That is why I decided to venture into this small-scale animal farming. It requires less space and has good returns with guaranteed markets for my products,” he says.
To earn his target monthly salary, Muita ensures he has a minimum of 15 mature chicken for sale each going for between Sh800 and Sh1,500 depending on weight and also demand in the market.
Some of them weigh up to seven kilos in about eight months. The cage is raised about four feet, which is adequate space for animals to sleep. The goat cages measure about three by three feet and occupy the second elevation.
“I have used the same building materials I would have used in constructing one housing structure for each of the animals. This structure saved me more than 75 per cent of cost that would have gone to constructing the cages and sheds,” says the farmer.
Muita has six mature hens, collecting about 40 eggs per day, each retailing at Sh20 to earn him Sh800 per day. He also has about a 100 chicks at different stages of growth.
“It is just a matter of planning. Due to the crossbreeding, I have layers that lay up to four months non-stop. I either sell the eggs to other farmers or stock for my breeding.
It is a matter of planning and fast-tracking the production and demand trends,” says the farmer.
He does not spend a lot of money in chicken feeds since they are left to roam and feed freely in the garden.
“However, I buy chicks mash for the young ones that cannot fend for themselves until they are two months old,” he says. Muita has two cows. One is lactating while the other produces about 15kg of milk per day, each kilo retailing at Sh35, thus earning him Sh525 daily.
“I feed the cows with grass collected from local farms, which reduces the cost of production. On average, both cows consume about Sh250 per day. It, therefore, means I get higher profits when I milk both,” he adds.
Manure collected from the animals is used in the banana garden, where he has also planted kales and spinach.
“The space is about an eighth of an acre from where I earn between Sh700 and Sh1,200 a week. There are no additional costs on inputs such as buying fertiliser or herbicides,” he says.
The vegetables do well because of the favourable climate. He plants the vegetables between bananas, giving them a protective cover against scorching sun.
“It also helps preserve water,” he says.
His dream was to train as a mechanic, but he dropped out of school when his father died when he was in Class Eight.
From his proceeds, Muita says he can now afford to build a permanent house.