At Jean-Baptiste Musabyimana’s poultry farm in Eastern Province’s Bugesera District, automated machines are turned on to supply feed to about 70,000 layer chickens.
Other machines power drinkers that provide the chicken with water.
While at this farm, located in Bugesera’s Mayange Sector, Musabyimana told The New Times that he produces about 60,000 eggs per day, which he mainly sells to neighboring countries, especially DR Congo.
Musabyimana during an interview. / Sam Ngendahimana
With an egg going for Rwf70, it means that Musabyimana makes sales worth an estimated Rwf4.2 million every day before deducting expenses.
Last year, he secured a deal to supply around 400,000 eggs to the United Nations’ forces in DR Congo every month, a deal in which he earns more than the market rate of Rwf70 per egg.
To be accredited to supply the UN with eggs, Musabyimana said, some UN staff spent about one year inspecting his farming operations, where they also sent samples of the eggs from his farm for testing in Europe’s advanced laboratories to ascertain their quality and safety.
He is the first Rwandan to be accredited to supply poultry products to the UN.
“Our ability to supply the UN with poultry products is thanks to the quality produce we make by avoiding to use antibiotics which can cause (health) problems,” he said.
This shows that Rwanda’s poultry industry is developing, he said.
His farm has three poultry houses constructed with brick walls with net-like metallic window fittings that provide proper ventilation to the chicken.
Modern laying nests are available inside the poultry houses where chicken lay eggs. Egg conveyor belts operated by automated machines move the eggs to a collection point.
The proprietor of Agri-Business Solutions Ltd— a company which integrates chicken farm and animal feed manufacturing, said his poultry farm has registered steady growth, from 10,000 chickens in late 2016 (when it started) to 70,000 currently.
Having started with an investment outlay of $1 million, the farm is now valued at $4 million.
He aspires to make poultry farming in the country a more lucrative business, for him and other investors.
In this regard, he said, he has so far rendered a helping hand to eight farmers across the country through training.
“I want to raise my chickens to about 200,000, but what would make me very happy is that in the coming years, we can have like 20 professional farmers carrying out commercial poultry farming and that the entire poultry industry chain including feed producers and drug dealers gets effectively organized to benefit the sector,” he observed.
Musabyimana employs 50 permanent workers and 15 casual laborers in his farming activities.
One of his workers, Jean-Baptiste Muhozi, graduated in microbiology at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology, last year.
“I wanted to work in agribusiness. So, I was happy to get a job in this company that uses technology in poultry farming. Apart from the pay I get here to fulfill my basic needs, I get skills which will help me to achieve my goal to be an agribusiness entrepreneur,” Muhozi said.
Optimizing poultry without using antibiotics
Musabyimana said he has adopted organic farming, pointing out that ensuring biosecurity for chickens is one of the means to protect them from diseases and unsafe use of antibiotics.
For instance, he said, all his chickens drink about 16,000 liters of water per day, with each consuming about 250 milliliters.
They each have feed intake of 125 grams, meaning one kilogram feeds eight chicken per day.
“For you to be able to carry out farming activities free from antibiotics, you should properly take care of your livestock so as to maximize productivity and achieve good quality produce,” he said.
Musabyimana explained that he conducted research on all animal resource proteins including chicken, pork, beef, and other livestock, but he realized that the protein that can be easily obtained is that from chicken, especially layers.
“When I started the poultry project, my main purpose was to make my contribution in providing people with the animal resource protein that they need. Because you realize that Africa is the continent most attracted by protein deficit,” he said. “Given the conditions in which Rwandans live, storage means, electricity and fridge requirements, what is efficient is to make egg proteins because eggs are easy to handle than meat because once the meat is not effectively stored, it can cause [health] problems.”
With his farm producing 60,000 eggs per day, it means that he can get at least 16 million eggs per year.
This implies that if Rwanda could have just 30 farmers like Musabyimana, it could get more eggs (480 million), almost double what all farmers in the country produced in 2017. Last year, annual national egg output was estimated at 244 million eggs.
This could increase per capita egg consumption in Rwanda estimated to about a kilogram, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
The consumption is well below the 4.5 kilograms of eggs per person every year recommended by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Musabyimana also owns a chicken feed production factory which he said produces about 15 tonnes of feed per day.
He uses some of the feed to nourish his chickens and sells the surplus to other farmers.
However, he said that chicken feed is still expensive resulting from the high cost of raw materials such as soy, sunflower, and maize.
In order to reduce the cost, he called for subsidies from the government.
“Prices of other items such as animal feed increase, but the prices for chicken products remain the same, which adversely affects the profitability of poultry farmers,” he said.
More about Musabyimana
Born in 1970 in Ruhango District, Southern Province, Musabyimana is an economist and business law expert with a masters’ degree in business law specializing in the fight against fraud and money laundering, which he obtained at the School of Management of Strasbourg (in France) in 2010.
Prior to his return from France to invest in poultry in 2016, he held the position of the business controller in international companies such as Nestlé – a Swiss multinational beverage corporation as well as a risk auditor at the Natixis Investment and Financing Bank in France.