Akro Farms is being featured after a conversation with the managing consultant, Mr. Benjamin Owiredu.
Akro Farms was registered in July 2018 and began operation the same year. The original intention of the entrepreneur, according to the managing consultant, Mr. Benjamin Owiredu was to operate on a small-scale. Plans however changed and the outcome is a large scale and fully automated farm.
SETTING UP AKRO FARMS
The initial plan was to start with 20,000 layers and then scale up to 200,000 layers in 5 years. At the point of sourcing for the equipment, they realized there wasn’t much difference in price of 20,000-bird-capacity equipment and 40,000-bird-capacity equipment. They decided to go for the 40,000-bird equipment to start.
They then shopped around and ended up with an automated equipment from China.
Akro Farms uses a fully automated battery cage system. The system is to ensure very minimal contact of birds with humans, other birds and their own droppings. Minimising contact is key in preventing outbreaks of diseases in poultry as most diseases are transmitted from the external environment.
It also reduces human labour. “A typical 40,000-bird farm with hatchery, and feed processing plant should employ about 50-60 people, but we are employing 25 people to do the same job”, Mr Owiredu revealed.
EFFICIENCY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
The automated system offers a more efficient operations. It creates the optimum environment for high laying rate of the birds. For instance, the farms is able to achieve 90-95% laying rate as opposed to the average 60% laying rate for the deep litter system.
The farm also manages to achieve a 65% revenue-to-feed ratio. The system minimizes feed wastage as compared to the deep litter system. In the deep litter system as much 50% of feed is wasted.
The farm additionally uses a bio-security system to ensure security of the premises against theft and dangerous activity.
Advantages clearly shows that a technology based set up is highly recommended for local poultry farmers because the benefits are very tangible.
An estimated amount of $1 million would be required to set up this type of a fully-automated 40,000-bird farm. A system with feed processing capability will increase cost to about US$ 2.5 million. It looks scary but Mr. Owiredu quickly advised that if one wants to do a smaller scale, one can consider a semi-automated system at less cost . The semi-automated may perform only feeding and egg collection.
THE MARKET FOR POULTRY
Poultry is a very lucrative business and has an insatiable market. However, the cost of production is the challenging factor. Mr. Owiredu confirmed that he currently has an order to supply 7000 crates a day which translates to 2.1 million eggs per day. The present capacity of the farm, produces only 36,000 eggs a day, which is only 1.7% of this very demand.
Additionally, the broiler market is very huge, but also has very high cost of production. This makes farmers shun away from large scale broiler farming. Hence prices of local broilers are noncompetitive as compared to the imports.
THE WORKABLE STRATEGIES
Monitoring cost of Production: 80-85% of revenue goes into feeding but farmers don’t even realise because of poor management practices. The need to set a set standard of 65% feed-to-revenue ratio to manage cost within allowable limits.
Deploying Technology: The right technology would help achieve efficiency and therefore profits
Cut of middlemen: Deal directly with maize farmers: buy at the main season where the price is low GHS50 per 50kg. The same quantity sells for GHS130 during the lean season.
Good management practices; use systems to track expenditure, and use professional management even if farm is owner-managed. The first 5-years of setting up can be very challenging. but a robust corporate governance structure helps. “What I have done is to advise the owners to set up a full corporate governance structure for the farm. The board and management is fully functional”.
Likewise, for small scale farmers, the owners should still get at least a couple of people they trust to act as board members.
Electricity: Find alternative sources of power, if possible, for your farms since power can be expensive and unreliable
Self-Production of Feed: If the farm can eventually produce their own food, it can further drive down cost for the farmer.
As stated, Akro Farms produces 36,000 eggs a day. This is against a daily demand for 2.1 millions eggs. They seek to supply eggs in the best condition as much as possible. Therefore they supply eggs in their own crates and in their vans.
Looks like the eggs sell off even before the eggs lay.
POULTRY FARMS: FEEDING GHANA
Mr. Owiredu is of the view that, if one or two of such farms are in each region and supported by the other smaller farms, Ghana may not need to import poultry products.