Indigenous chicken, what is referred to in Kenya as Kienyeji chicken is the preferred chicken of many households and eateries in Kenya. Despite making up 80% of the population of chicken in Kenya, low productivity means that indigenous chicken make up only 60% of all chicken consumed in Kenya. Urban retailers have significant unmet demand for indigenous chickens (e.g. local supermarkets each want 500 chickens per week per outlet) but cannot find a consistent supply to meet this demand. Indigenous chicken is truly local with 95% of the chicken consumed within 10 – 15km radius of the producer,
There is a large and under-served market for Kienyeji chicken and the national demand is growing steadily. While this is happening, producers still complain of lack of market while retailers complain of lack of supply. To be able to satisfy these current and emerging markets, farmers should first ensure they adopt technology and employ the best practices in poultry production to ensure the right quality and quantities demanded by the target market. Producers must then organize themselves to satisfy local demand before reaching out to big league buyers and processors where honouring set contractual obligations may still prove a challenge. The first point of call should be to take a census of all eateries in your nearest urban or peri-urban centre and note their daily chicken needs. It is very common to find that small kiosks and eateries could well together be taking an average of 100 birds per day all put together. For a farmer who has staggered his or her production so as to sell an average of 50 to 100 birds daily, this is a great sustainable market that does not require heavy investments in transport and marketing costs. Farmers can also leverage the power of social media for free marketing or by word of mouth within a 15km radius so every household knows where to get their eggs and chicken. There will be a large additional market from weddings, schools, church functions, funerals and other social and political gatherings.
A cadre of lead farmers however (farmers keeping large number of birds) need to have contractual obligations with big buyers or processors like supermarkets, big institutions like universities and colleges, butcheries(meat sellers) among others. These are big supplies that run into between 500 per week to 1000 per week. Before signing such contracts it is imperative to note that they have to be honoured because a breach would severe chances of future relationships and frustrate your business efforts.
Marketing can also be very frustrating when your margins are very low. Low margins means you lack the energy and finances to improve or continue production. A careful management of costs to ensure an increasingly good profitability can be attained if you become master of your business and employ stringent cost cutting measures that do not interfere with quality. One such measure would be moving from use of commercial feeds to making your own feed at home which effectively reduces your costs by almost 50%.
The key marketing tip note is to start from your locality, satisfy its demand before seeking bigger supply obligations, use the power of social media to reach out, produce outstanding qualities and desired quantities, stagger your production so you can be able to sell every month, strive to build on your flock each month to graduate from smallholding to lead farming and ensure you capture new technologies you need to adopt to bring efficiency to your poultry enterprise.
Then you can safely walk the path of commercialization of chicken production.