“Caleb Karuga sacrificed his fame on TV and worked out an exit plan from his reporter”s job last year, leased a one acre plot and today he is headed to be a millionaire”
For six years, Caleb Karuga was known in Kenya’s TV scene as a journalist who would go to any length to profile low income earners, eking a living in difficult circumstances.
But Caleb Karuga always thought even though the job he had was emotionally fulfilling, he was not economically satisfied.
“My job opened doors for me in several African countries that I travelled to. I met the who-is-who, had a good name, but I was not impressed by my bank balance. I decided to venture into my true love; farming. I knew this venture could earn me a handsome income if I put my mind to it” he says.
Like many youths, Caleb’s family had a very small piece of land—quarter an acre. With five beneficiaries to the land, he could not rely on it.
“I leased an acre of land in Kikuyu and started to build structures for kienyeji chicken. The lease costs me Sh 8,000 a year!” he explains his humble beginnings.
He continues, “I bought three kienyeji chicken and three pigs. One does not have to start big. That is the mistake most young people make.” The former journalist who says he loves researching on issues says he learnt about the KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) Improved Kienyeji chicken on the internet.
“I bought 500 Day-Old KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken after I lost many indigenous chicken I had bought from several farmers in order to increase my stock. Most of them were not vaccinated” he adds.
He did this as he was preparing an exit from his reporter’s job and by the time he left in August last year after six years as a journalist, he was already making money as a poultry farmer.
Today, his Kikuyu farm has over 1,500 Kienyeji chicken, while two other pieces of land in Nanyuki and Nyeri have 400 and 200 Kienyeji chicken respectively.
Although the Kienyeji chicken take longer to mature, Caleb chose them because they are cheaper to feed and are quite disease resistant. “I sell a one day chick at Sh 100 and a kienyeji egg at Sh 15 or Sh 20. A full grown Kienyeji chicken goes for about Sh 800 while the broilers/ ex layers go for Sh 270-Sh 300. When you do your maths, you realize that the Kienyeji chicken is more profitable,” quips the former TV reporter.
At times, he sells cocks at Sh 1,200 and above during holidays such as April, August and December. “In most cases, I determine the cost of the chicken since the demand for Kienyeji meat far outstrips supply. It’s a very good business.”
Wendy Farm’s flagship project of Kienyeji chicken currently employs six youth. On a good month, Caleb says the Kienyeji chicken can earn him a handsome figure in the neighborhood of 600,000 shillings or more….”I don’t regret having left employment, God has been very faithful to me despite the challenges I face every day”
Quite techno-savvy, Caleb has utilized digital platforms to learn tips on farming. “The Mkulima Young Website has helped me in marketing my products and also interacting with fellow young farmers,” he says.
Caleb who is the Managing Director of his company, Wendy Farms Ltd, admonishes the youth, “You can lose the job you have today. Don’t be obsessed with a formal job or get stuck at the plateau of success. Look for a way in which you can have a plan ‘b’ business to cushion you during hard times. Learn to create employment, not look for it.
As Caleb approaches the millionaire’s club, he is quick to point out. “You cannot satisfy demand for Kienyeji chicken in Kenya, East African region and the rest of Africa. As matters stand, the orders I have for day-old KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken and Kuroilers is overwhelming me, but I am not complaining.