Blog | May 15, 2024
Catalyzing Innovations in Rwanda’s Poultry Market: The Ready-to-Lay Pullet Model
In Rwanda, a poultry producer introduced a disruptive model that changes the prevailing market system dynamic by providing small producers with ready-to-lay chickens, animal feed, and eggs retail solutions to increase availability and consumption of eggs in local communities.

Banner image: Ready-to-lay pullets. Photo Credit: Laetitia Umulisa

This blog was originally posted on MarketLinks. View the original post. 

In Rwanda, relatively few households consume eggs — even though eggs offer a range of nutritional benefits, especially for children and pregnant and lactating women.

In part, this is because eggs are simply not accessible to consumers in Rwanda. Compared to other livestock value chains, poultry and egg production require sizeable upfront and working capital. Smaller businesses may struggle with this: They often face constraints to invest in infrastructure, equipment, and inputs.  In particular, egg production enterprises struggle when their hens are young, under 16 weeks of age, which is known as the pullet development stage. In Rwanda, smallholder producers rear live chickens and eggs using local birds, typically sold as day-old chicks or pullets, which produce an average of 38 eggs per year, compared with improved breeds that may produce around 320 eggs per year.

Introducing Ready-To-Lay Pullets

In early 2022, Feed the Future Rwanda Orora Wihaze, an activity that supports livestock market actors using a market systems development approach, noticed a rising demand for eggs. They saw this as a critical opportunity to introduce new business models that could address production inefficiencies, which would ultimately benefit both producers and consumers. To tackle this challenge, the activity joined forces with ABUSOL Ltd, a large-scale commercial poultry producer located in the outskirts of Kigali.

ABUSOL implements an innovative pullet grower scheme that enables start-up, small-scale commercial egg layer producers to purchase high-quality pullets. It envisions a poultry industry that includes a new generation of young, entry level entrepreneurs. 

Before purchasing pullets, participating producers must undertake a training and certification program, accredited by the Rwanda Technical and Vocational Education Training Board (RTB). To date, ten farm managers and 50 young farm technicians and egg traders were trained through the program. Five certified producers produce an average of 270,000 eggs monthly, purchased back by ABUSOL in exchange for feed supplied by a subsidiary company. 

Through the partnership, ABUSOL offers a comprehensive package of veterinary extension services during the post-pullet delivery phase. During the fragile pullet development stage, these veterinary services are critical to ensure that chicks and pullets kept healthy enough to mature to the egg production stage.


Early Results From the Model

ABUSOL delivers feed and collects eggs daily, which are sold in newly established kiosks. To make eggs more affordable and accessible, Orora Wihaze helped ABUSOL invest in rural-based egg kiosks to facilitate egg sales and distribution. They trained 40 traders and retailers to ensure stronger egg aggregation, distribution, and market linkages between market actors. 

All the participating producers sell eggs directly from the farm, through ABUSOL’s vehicles, which collect and supply their eggs to various kiosks and mini kiosks in Rwanda’s Ngoma and Kayonza Districts. ABUSOL’s sales agents offer daily door-to-door egg delivery services using branded bicycles. Besides allowing consumers to access eggs more easily, this also means that producers can obtain a fair price for their fresh eggs, without incurring marketing and transport costs. ABUSOL’s kiosks rapidly built a customer base through the convenience and the focus on community-driven values, turning it into a thriving small business.

The ready-to-lay pullet model piloted by ABUSOL has drawn the attention of other producers. It has demonstrated the exciting prospect that they can have predictable income in 24 to 90 weeks. Though in its early stages, ABUSOL has already received orders for over 17,800 pullets from traditional (day-old chick) poultry producers. New entrants continue to express their interest in partnering with ABUSOL to adopt this innovative model. By producing eggs and meat for household consumption and local markets, these producers are joining efforts to alleviate malnutrition and contribute to balanced diets in Rwandan communities. 

A well-branded egg kiosk recently inaugurated in Kayonza District with the capacity to retail over 4,500 eggs per day. Photo Credit: Emmet Murphy

An Attractive Investment for Young People

Entrepreneurs Hadija Umuhoza, CEO Soothing Niha Farm Ltd and Crispin Ishimwe, CEO Trust Chicken Farm Ltd.   in Ngoma District became early youth adopters of the ready-to-lay pullet model. Hadija borrowed start-up capital from her parents, while Crispin raised funds from friends and family to kick start the project to collectively purchase 5,000 pullets. Every morning before sunrise, Hadija heads to the farm to tend her flock and supervise a small team to feed her chickens and collect their eggs. Hadija acquired skills to manage the farm along with her neighbor farmer, Crispin. Proceeds obtained from egg sales have encouraged Hadija and Crispin to re-invest their profits and expand their operations.

Hadija shared, “Investing in chicken farming has improved my life and taught me certain skills that are valuable.” For example, “One of the secrets to sustaining maximum egg production is to feed pullets with a nutritious and balanced diet.”

Hadija Umuhoza stands in front of her poultry shed, which houses 2,494 pullets. Photo Credit: Emmet Murphy

Crispin also expressed how the investment has benefited him, and how he feels a renewed sense of autonomy and ownership over his business.  He explained, “I am confident that I can bank on my new passion, as I have full autonomy of decision making and the capacity to scale up the size of the current farm and the number of pullets in the coming few months.” 

Crispin Ishimwe stands in front of his poultry farm which houses 2,486 pullets. Photo Credit: Emmet Murphy

Looking Forward: Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the progress, securing additional finance remains a challenge for small scale producers, given the cost of acquiring 16-week-old pullets and feeding them until they reach their full laying capacity. Poultry/egg production market opportunities are not attractive to banks or other financing institutions, despite keen market demand. High-interest rates, collateral requirements, and the informal nature of many poultry small family-owned enterprises pose barriers to accessing funds from financing institutions, thus limiting farmers’ ability to expand their operations. Additionally, there remain challenges in accessing feeds and lowering production costs in the long term. As part of the solution, ABUSOL’s subsidiary company has invested in large scale black solder fly larvae powder production to replace imported soy meal for chicken feed mix. 

Still, the outlook of the ready-to-lay pullet poultry market is promising and offers substantial growth opportunities. With an increased awareness of the benefits of egg and poultry meat nutritional values, demand for eggs and poultry meat is projected to grow steadily as consumers see it as a healthier and more environmentally sustainable product than other types of animal-sourced foods. 

This blog was originally posted on MarketLinks. View the original post. 

By Hortence Baho 05/15/2024 #Blog