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The Business Sense In Quail Agribusiness-By Profarms Consultants

Last week, I had a very unique client.
A lady visited me in my office and told me that she
was willing to pay me anything if I could help her get
a market for her quails.
Apparently, she had invested all her money and time
in rearing the birds believing that there was a big
market only to get stuck when they matured.
My first question was how she got into the business
in the first place.
She told me that she was introduced by a friend, who
then introduced her to a gentleman who was selling
and training people on how to rear the birds.
After attending the training, she got to learn that
people were minting money from the birds that
consumed very little food and unlike chicken
required very little care, being wild creatures.
REQUIREMENTS
The requirements, she was informed was a licence
from KWS, a simple structure and a bit heavy
investment in the birds as there were very costly—
Sh800 per mature bird or between Sh200 and Sh400
per chick, depending on age.
She was promised good returns as one egg retails at
Sh100.
She was told that there was a big export market in
Asia, Middle and Far East countries, especially China
where the bird is a delicacy.
Besides, the quail eggs have a horde of healthy and
medicinal value including managing conditions such
as HIV/Aids, diabetes, libido problems and lifestyle
diseases mostly associated with affluent people with
money.
After the training she went to the supermarket and
confirmed indeed that quail eggs had a high price
tag.
She searched in the Internet and confirmed that
indeed the quail products had health and medical
benefits.
After this she concluded that rearing quails is the key
to wealth creation.
WHAT SHE DIDN’T REALISE
What she did not realise was first, the number of
people making good money from selling eggs and
quails to farmers like her who were out to make
money; second, eggs were bought in large quantities
to hatch and mature quails were bought for
reproduction purposes only.
The consumer market was almost non existence.
The mechanism for export only existed in the mind of
its promoters.
Rearing quails is turning out to be yet another
entrepreneurial miscalculation.
Many people have made a big blunder by venturing
into a business they don’t understand, following
others blindly.
Today, several farmers are trying to sell an egg at
Sh20 but they can’t get a consumer buyer, unless
other ambitions farmers.
The first cardinal rule in business is never invest or
venture in something you don’t understand.
The second is always to know your customer.
It always pays to do a market research and establish
if there is a need; the size of the customers and their
purchasing power; who your competitors are and
what your competitive advantages are.

Quail farming has become quite a craze in Kenya as
many hope to make good money from the business.
But Kenya is not the first country to practice quail
farming in large scale.
In continents like Australia quail farming began in
1970.
Game Farm, the largest producer of quails in
Australia, started their business in 1975 producing
about 3.55 million birds annually with an average of
296,000 birds per month or 9,900 birds per day.
However, there is no business venture without its
downside.
According to Paul Gichohi, a quail farmer from the
Mount Kenya region, there are challenges in quail
framing although no other bird does this well
currently.
“Other birds must be pretty envious of quails as they
are the most talked about in the country,” he quips.
MARKET GETTING SATURATED
Mr Gichohi who boasts of over 1,200 quails noted
that the birds’ market is currently posing a great
challenge as it is getting saturated.
The quail farmer said those who failed to survey the
market before investing huge sums of money into
the scheme are risking losses.
“The unprecedented upsurge in demand for quails in
recent months has clearly moved entrepreneurs
across the country to risk venturing into the
somewhat new business.
Cautious investors who surveyed the market prior to
venturing have clearly raked in millions as the
business was not as flooded as it is now.
“Many are still getting into it in a big way without
surveying the local market. They may not recoup
their investments if they are not careful,” Mr Gichohi
warned.
(READ: Hard reality as market forces shift against
quail bonanza)
EXPORT MARKET
He suggested that new farmers should go slow and
think of the export market which has greater
potential.
Solomon Mwaura, a quail farmer from Ridgeways,
Kiambu County, is counting losses but he is not
giving up anytime soon.
Mr Mwaura, a 23 year old student said he invested
close to half a million shillings to uncover the gold
under the new ‘million-dollar’ business.
He borrowed Sh200,000 from his father and elder
brother to purchase two incubators for his ‘golden
eggs.’
“One incubator has a capacity of holding 1,326 eggs
and together they hold 2,652 eggs,” says the student
who adds that he has sacrificed much of his school
time to take care of the birds.
He says the main challenges facing him are diseases
and a ready market for his products.
“As from December 28, 2013 to date I have only sold
10 eggs at Sh20 each.
I had expected to sell an egg at a minimum price of
Sh60 and a mature chick at Sh600,” he says.
I collect around 50 eggs in a day and I have been
forced to put some in the incubator to avoid spoilage.
I have been eating others for I am left with no
choice,” said Mwaura.
DIE AFTER HATCHING
He further says that some of the quails die soon soon
after hatching. Most die before they are two weeks
old.
He says he lost about 100 birds from his first
acquisition of 600 birds.
“I in a span of one month I lost 100 birds soon after
hatching. I also lost 50 mature ones.
When I ventured into the market an egg was going
for Sh100 while mature chicks sold for about Sh1,000
but now I am counting losses of close to Sh200,000.
However, he says he is not giving up any soon.
He says he is considering going for the export market
where he says demand is currently high.
“I intend to produce at least 1000 eggs weekly
because I hear an egg exported to Dubai markets
could fetch me Sh1,000.
Maybe then, my investment would bring better
returns,” he said.
COMMON SPECIES
The most commonly reared species of quails in
Kenya’s commercial enterprises is the Corturnix
Corturnix japonica, commonly known as the Japanese
quails and is found in most quail farms in the
country.
This species produces an average of 280 eggs per
hen annually and if a male to female ratio of 1:3 is
observed, the hatchability is over 70 per cent.
Mr Gichohi actually says that if you maintain
cleanliness and handle the incubator well, the
hatchability is 90 per cent.
They mature after six weeks.
A mature Japanese quail weighs 160g and takes no
more than 30g of feeds daily.
Mr Gichohi is quick to say that quail farming is the in-
thing and not a pyramid scheme by any chance.
“Go right into it fearlessly and scale the heights to as
high as you can possibly get.
The largest producer of quails in Kenya that I have
seen so far has about 10,000 birds and is doing well,”
he said.

By Bernard Wainaina
Agribusiness Consultant
Profarms Consultants

Contact;
Email; profarms@hotmail.com
Cell; +254722659313{SMS Only or Whatsapp}

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