Jacktone Ambole has found success in farming in Kenya after quitting a well-paying job in the US.
Ambole, 29, moved to the US in 2014 to further his studies after securing a scholarship, having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Moi University.
After completing his studies, he secured a good job with a non-profit in the US, where he worked for some years before deciding to return to Kenya to do full-time farming.
Before he started farming, he decided to try his luck in politics by running for the Mwibona Ward MCA seat in the 2017 elections but he lost despite spending millions of shillings in the campaigns, which left him almost bankrupt.
“My prime goal when coming back was to venture into farming full-time, but when an opportunity in politics presented itself, being a risk-taker, I decided to try my luck,” he told The Standard.
“I had used up almost 90 percent of my savings that I had accumulated from the Diaspora for campaigns. That was a big blow. I was in a tight fix.”
While still pondering his next move in 2018, Ambole met one Peter Ndeche, a poultry farmer from Siaya who trains farmers on commercial poultry farming. After attending training, he decided to venture into poultry farming, spending Sh20,000 to buy chicks, feeds and set up the structures.
“I bought 50 two-week-old improved Kienyeji chicks at Sh120 each. After three months, through my networks, I learned about a wedding in the village and got the tender to supply 100 birds for the ceremony. I sold my 50 birds at Sh450 each and got Sh22,500. I sourced for another 50 birds from a friend at Sh350 and sold them at Sh450 each making a profit of Sh5,000,” recounts Ambole.
Every time he sold chicken, he would pump the proceeds back into the business, which enabled him to buy 500 day-old chicks at Sh100 each as well as some feeds.
“I used to sell my chicken when they had attained the age of between two and four months. Those that were two months were going for Sh300, two and half months at Sh350, three months at Sh450, and four months at Sh700. My main market was the locals and events like weddings, funerals, and birthday parties,” says Ambole.
By the end of 2018, Ambole had saved enough money to acquire an incubator with a hatching capacity of 528 eggs and a generator for backup power. He also decided to keep chicken for eggs in addition to meat.
“By October 2018, I used to collect between 350 and 430 eggs daily totaling about 9,600 eggs a month. I started hatching some of the eggs and sell the chicks to farmers at Sh100 for day-old chicks, a week at Sh120, a two-week-old at Sh150, and a month-old at Sh200. I sold the fertilized eggs to the locals at Sh20 each,” he adds.
“To widen my network, I formed several community self-help groups and gave each one of the 100 day-old chicks after I had trained them on best practices. The groups did well and today, they are serious poultry farmers. In fact, I buy all their eggs and hatch them. This is why I am able to sell chicks throughout at my farm.”
Through earnings from the business, he was able to acquire a two-acre parcel of land within Ebukuya village where he plants tissue culture bananas, kales, black nightshade, and beans.
“I use the poultry wastes as fertilizer on my farm. At any given time I am selling something on my farm and I have never been broke again. I sell the bananas for between Sh700 and Sh1,500 since they are very big,” he says.
He recently started keeping rabbits and rears various breeds such as California White, Flemish Giant, American Chinchilla, and New Zealand white. He sells a month-old-rabbit for Sh300 while two-month and above go at between Sh350 and Sh500.
Ambole also slaughters the rabbits and sells a kilo of raw meat at Sh300 and fried at Sh450.
“I do not regret leaving the US to do farming. Though I used to get paid well, what I am getting is enough for me and my family and I have peace of mind. I am self-sufficient and I thank God for blessing the work of my hands,” says Ambole.
Currently, he has 1,700 birds at the farm, 215 rabbits, 15 pigs, three dairy cows, and two and a half acres under bananas and passion fruits.