Two youths, a man and a woman, offload small sacks of dry maize and other animal feed-making ingredients from a pickup truck in Njoro, Nakuru.
The members of Inuka Njoro Youth Group make nutritious livestock feeds at their shop in the town, particularly from maize and other ingredients like sunflower.
The group also runs an agro-shop where they do not only sell their feeds but also animal medicine and other products.
“We had engaged in maize growing for some time, so we decided to start adding value to the produce and source for raw materials to mix with it,” Lenah Mwangi, the chairperson, tells Mkulima Young.
Mwangi recounts that they chose to add value to the produce after realising that most dairy farmers had lacked quality and affordable feeds.
“We had attended several field days organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation. We would talk to farmers and they would say that one of the challenges they had was lack of quality, affordable feeds,” she recounts.
In 2019, the group received training on structuring business, how to do sales and marketing and recordkeeping.
“We were mentored through a collaboration between Vijabiz project and CoELIB, a programme run by Egerton University. We visited established farmers and firms engaging in animal feeds processing for lessons,” says Mwangi.
The group started by making selected animal feeds but they now make products across the livestock value chain.
Among the machines they have is a drum mixer, a weighing scale and a miller which they use to process the feeds.
According to Mwangi, once the feeds are processed, they are packed in sacks of various sizes that include 50kg. The group sells their products at their shop to farmers in the area and online through Mkulima Young.
Anthony Macharia, a trained agricultural economist and a member of the group, says he has gained hands on knowledge on feed formulation.
“I also now have knowledge on animal nutrition, which I apply practically in our activities and advice farmers on various aspects,” he says.
Judith Kipchumba, the treasurer, says working as a group is advantageous because it enables one think faster and know how to relate with others.
“If youths are motivated, they can achieve a lot but they also need support and motivation,” she says.
Collins Owino, an officer with Vijabiz project, says that the group does not only make feeds but also does consultancies, helping farmers solve various challenges on the farm.
“They consult on various issues in agriculture with their new brand ‘Inuka Agri Solutions’. It has been a long journey with some setbacks and bottlenecks but the group is soldiering on,” he says.