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Hatching new plans: How a survivor of gender-based violence launched a thriving poultry business
After surviving 17 years of domestic abuse, Lilian Ocholla separated from her husband a year ago. She is focused on improving her well-being and building a better future for herself and her children.
Today, the 39-year-old mother and farmer is challenging gender-based violence by setting up what is fast becoming a successful poultry business, with help from a program called Hatching Hope. “I had some small businesses in the past, but my ex-husband would destroy them. This time, there is finally not a chance of that happening,” she said.
Powered by a partnership between Cargill and Heifer International, the Hatching Hope Kenya project empowers small-scale farmers like Lilian to become integral players in the poultry value chain while at the same time improving nutrition in the community by promoting poultry production and consumption.
Hatching a new plan
Lilian’s business sprung from the radio. “I heard an advert from Hatching Hope and was interested in what they shared. When I went to check it out, I really admired the work they were doing.”
Once a week for one and a half months, Lilian attended training led by Hatching Hope and the Kenya Society for Agricultural Professionals. She learned the basics of not just poultry farming but also running a business.
Three months later, Lilian has 78 birds and is already making plans to take her business to the next level.
However, one of Lilian’s biggest worries was figuring out how to market her birds and make a profit as she branched into the commercial poultry business.
Tapping into a new market
Fortunately for Lilian, Hatching Hope offers connections for farmers to the business expertise of teams around the world.
“I was concerned about marketing. Sometimes you can have the chicken, but you don’t have the market,” Lilian explained. “But through Hatching Hope, I learned about Bora Cooperative.”
Bora Cooperative is a farmer-owned agribusiness supported by Hatching Hope Kenya. Through them, Lilian has found new customers.
“Bora has helped me a lot. Recently, when I wanted to sell cockerels, I took pictures of them and shared them with the Bora group, and within two days, I had sold 15, each at seven dollars.”
Sharing success with the community
After seeing how much of an impact poultry farming could have on her life, Lilian wanted to share what she learned with her peers. Lilian and her father formed a Poultry Interest Group to increase awareness about commercial poultry farming in her village.
“My dad and I just went around talking to the villagers urging them to come together and form a group … because I want their livelihoods to change. People are not serious about poultry farming, but if I can get 20 serious people, I can help them change, and we can work together.”
She is happy that the group is growing and currently has 11 members. They receive training from community facilitators.
Facing the future
Looking forward, Lilian is determined to grow her poultry business, setting a target of owning 1,000 birds by the end of 2021. Lilian hopes that poultry farming will address financial needs for her and her community and increase food security, which has significantly deteriorated due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With more people embracing poultry rearing, Lilian hopes more people will opt to consume meat and eggs within her community, and ultimately, fight food insecurity.