FAO in Rwanda.
Over 60 per cent of youth account for all African unemployed and the majority of them live in rural areas. Africa’s economy is inherently dependent on agriculture. More than 32% of the continent’s gross domestic product comes from the sector.
In Rwanda, agriculture contributed 6 per cent to Rwanda’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.
Therefore, leveraging the strength of the youth in rural areas, would see creation of more job opportunities and increased incomes for families.
FAO, through a poultry project launched in Rwanda in 2015, empowered 50 young unemployed graduates.
Victor Gashema lives with his mother and eight other family members in Gisagara District, Gikonko sector. He completed high school in veterinary studies in 2014, but he couldn’t find employment immediately.
“When I completed high school in veterinary studies, I was unemployed because there was no institution I would apply a job to since I was a secondary school graduate. We were taught how to rear and treat livestock,” he says.
Although he had the experience of keeping poultry, from his childhood and from school, he didn’t have capital to put it into practice. He decided to join his family to cultivate the family garden.
“When I was young in primary school I tried to rear about two chickens because I liked eggs very much,” Victor explains his passion with chickens.
Victor, like other youth selected to benefit from the project, received 330 chickens, feeders, drinkers and a poultry house was built for him.
They received a number of trainings and conducted study tours to other poultry farmers in the country.
“One day an announcement was issued by the local authorities calling for unemployed youth with a plot of land that has access to water and electricity, because chickens require a lot of water and electricity. I applied and was selected,” he says
Since then, every day he wakes up between 5am and 6am to feed his chickens feeds, after which, he washes the feeders. At 9am he picks eggs from the poultry house using a bucket.
“Waking up that early to feed my chickens doesn’t bothered me at all. My siblings sometimes help to wash the drinkers or feeding the chickens, we work together,” he says with a smiles.
Improving life at home
“The first eggs I sold the eggs and got money which I used to buy a piece of land worth 600,000 Rwandan francs, and got capital to establish a veterinary pharmacy. I also sold chicken manure. I saved some money and supported the family. I helped two of my siblings to stay in school,” he says.
After one year, he sold the chickens he had received as they were old, and replaced them with 450 one-day chicks – which, after four months – started laying eggs. Today he has a total of 1,450 chickens.
On weekly basis he gathers over 700 eggs and his weekly supply to the market is about 4,900 eggs. When he deducts all the expenses, in a month he earns a profit of about 150,000 Rwandans francs.
“At home we few people working. We’re a big a family of nine people and my mother is old and unable to do work like digging because that’s what she used to do. The others go to the garden. I tried to improve the family’s nutrition and buying clothes for family members,” victor explains.
High demand, low supply
He sells a few eggs to some people especially those in the neighborhood collect the eggs and supplies the bulk to Butare main market, the main market in the neighboring Huye District.
“The price of an egg we sell to our neighbors is lower compared to one that we impose for clients in the market. We sell to neighbors 70 Rwandan francs because they contribute to the security of the poultry farm. They pick the eggs at home,” he says.
To avoid high risk of losing his eggs while transporting them, he packs the eggs in a metal box stuffed with wood shavings and load the box on the motorcycle and drives to Butare.
“The market is big and I cannot satisfy it. I now target is to rear 5,000 layers which will give me a weekly production of at least 25,000 eggs,” he says.
An egg can end malnutrition
According to the Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4), Gisagara, his home area is one of districts in the country struggling with high rates of malnourished and malnutrition jeopardizing children’ growth. 48.5 per cent of the children under 5 years are stunted.
Every week, Victor gives out five eggs to families with stunted children – some are so vulnerable to even afford to buy one egg, and every month he supplies about 20 eggs to a health centre in his area.
“We have been receiving a good report right from the sector and from the District level, that more children were coming out of the red line. The meals they received from the center had an egg. The sector and District authorities thanked me for the contribution toward reducing malnutrition in our area,” he says.
Diversifying income streams
With the money from the eggs he bought a motorcycle used to moto taxi in his rural area. He also uses it to transport the eggs to the market.
When he’s not treating people’s livestock for a free or going to buy medicine for the veterinary pharmacy, he is supervising the employee and helping at his veterinary pharmacy from which he makes some money.
His business employees about three young people some of whom are tertiary graduates.
Transferring the skills to young people
Victor’s success at the project has attracted the desire of many youth and other people. They have been coming to learn from him how to keep poultry and they have since started their own poultry business.
They come to learn how chickens are reared and how to build a poultry house.
“Now that I know the benefits of poultry farming, I hope to make it a big business. I want to pursue veterinary medicine at the university. Soon, I will be building a house and get married,” he says with a lot of enthusiasm.
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