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Healthy business for poulty farms

Food Security

What used to be a flourishing business, generating multimillions in turnover, had become nothing more than row after row of empty coops. While Darko Farms of Ghana was extremely keen to ensure that its poultry farms returned to doing healthy business, it simply did not know where to start. PUM expert Leo van de Velde therefore lent a helping hand, starting with the basics: ‘The bottom line has to be favourable if a firm is to continue to exist.’

Darko Farms comprises six business units, with a total 38,000 square metres of coops. While its slaughterhouse can process 20,000 broilers a day, the entire plant is currently shut down. Cheap imports from Europe, Brazil and the USA have basically put the West African poultry industry out of business. The management, which is currently in the hands of the founder’s sons, also proved incapable of turning things around. And while a new manager has been engaged in the meantime, the firm still lacks the necessary know-how. Leo: ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken looms on the horizon as a potential customer, but the firm will first have to adopt sound business practices.’

‘The first thing to be done is to get the sums right’

Ingredients from one's own region

The first thing you need to do is to get your sums right, according to Leo. ‘It struck me straight away that the firm had been purchasing chickenfeed which was far too expensive. It had failed to notice that ingredients such as fishmeal and soya are readily available in its own region. That means that you only have to import vitamins and minerals. This yields around a 30% reduction in costs, which would render the production of chicken meat feasible.’ If the slaughter line is to prove profitable, however, then Darko Farms will also have to cooperate with local farmers. ‘In order to get the farmers on board, Darko will have to present them with figures that actually add up. If you fail to convince farmers of the potential returns, then you will ultimately be left empty handed.’

Modern and futureproof

Establishing a modern, futureproof poultry chain naturally entails more than simply ensuring that the figures tally, however. Leo spent six days holding training sessions for both staff of Darko and various other businesses, focusing on topics including hygiene, biosecurity, modern genetics, disease prevention and animal housing. ‘The most experienced and knowledgeable people left the firm when prices slumped. Know-how is therefore sorely needed again.’ Darko Farms has applied for a loan in order to relaunch the business. Once the green light has been given, Leo will visit again, perhaps even several times. ‘We will then be in a position to put the theory into practice.’