Enjoying the fruits of nearly impossible business in Somaliland

Story - 2019-12-10
Nestled in the beautiful mountainous area in Awdal region of Somaliland lies the vibrant town of Borama. Situated near the border with Ethiopia and 120 kilometers west of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital city, Borama has an estimated population of about 230,000 people. Borama is not only home to pastoralist communities but also to other types of farming communities. Its home to Ahmed Mohamed, a vibrant and ambitious middle-aged man and a member of the Somali diaspora in Sweden.
Ahmed Mohamed, founder of Daryeel Poultry Farm in Borama, Somaliland.
Ahmed Mohamed, founder of Daryeel Poultry Farm in Borama, Somaliland.

Ahmed decided to venture out into the little practiced type of farming in the Horn of Africa after realizing that there was a huge demand for chicken’s products. Ahmed noticed that Chicken’s products such as eggs were imported from neighbouring Ethiopia by road. In local shops, it was not only sold at higher prices but was most of the times out of stock. Local shops also complained of the losses they suffer since most of the eggs break on their way to Borama due to the bumpy road.

Enticed by the networks of restaurant and shops that will buy his product, Ahmed formed a company, Daryeel Poultry farm in January 2019 and set up an expansive poultry house on a piece of land in the outskirts of the town. Ahmed kickstarted his business With financial support from the Swedish Somalia Business Programme (SSBP) funded by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), he travelled to Ethiopia and bought 500 layer chicks.

The poultry facility is fairly equipped with piped water, with several springs to keep the birds well hydrated. Since the chicks required energy, proteins, fats, mineral and vitamins, Ahmed has enough stock of feed and kept on restocking consistently.

“I had not harbored any plans or passion for starting poultry business. The whole idea of doing so came to my mind when I saw the opportunity. It was drought at that time and there was very little fresh milk and meat in the market. I looked around and the same was for chicken’s product such as eggs and meat. I looked at the demand for chickens’ eggs and meat in Borama and it was promising.  I sat down and came with the plan of starting a poultry farming. It was not easy.” Said Ahmed.

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Layer chickens in Daryeel poultry farm in Borama on November 30, 2019

The chicks were successfully delivered to Ahmed’s poultry farm in Borama but this proved to be only half the story, since the chicks required a favorable temperature, veterinary check and a balanced diet to survive on. completely in different environment and lack of knowledge in poultry farming, Ahmed lost about 40 chicks. Despite losing over 40 chicks, he didn’t give up.

The chicks feed and veterinary were not locally available, a tall on his teething business. He would travel to Ethiopia through a bumpy road to buy feeds and bring in a vet to check his birds condition. The layers began consuming more feeds as they grow, and this meant more cost especially with increasing cost of transporting feeds from Ethiopia to his poultry farm in Borama.

Determined to run his poultry venture, the father-of-two, gets up at the crack-of-dawn to attend to his chicks alongside with his employees. He also engaged a Yemeni-vet who also started poultry business in Borama. While this was new business venture for him, Ahmed embraced every challenge as an opportunity to learn and improved on.

Early November 2019, it was now time to tell if the hard work and sleepless night was worth it. Some of the layers have started laying eggs and this was the happiest moment for him. For now, the layers produce about 130 eggs per day, its packed into trays and delivered to two restaurants in Borama. Ahmed expect all his layers to start laying eggs towards end of December 2019.

The 47-year old currently employed 6 youth from the area and he expect to double that number by mid next year. He also hopes to increase the number of layer chicks from current 460 to 2500 by early next year. To meet this target, Ahmed went back to Sweden to raise some funds to expand his business delegating the managerial role of his farm to a lady he employed as operations manager.

Idil Hussein, Daryeel Poultry farm operations Manager
Idil Hussein, Daryeel Poultry farm operations Manager packs freshly laid eggs into an egg tray in Borame on November 30, 2019.

“It was not an easy business venture, but I always had a positive mindset. I want to thank SIDA and Forum Syd for supporting small businesses. These businesses have contributed to the rebuilding of the economy. We created jobs for youth and brought an income to the government through the taxes we paid. I request you to continue supporting small businesses. You really helped me achieve my dreams of starting poultry business. Without your support, I’d not have achieved this much today.” Said Ahmed.

As the Somali food culture shifts to new diets given the recurrent droughts in Horn of Africa, demand for poultry products is bound to put lot of pressure on the already limited poultry production, a potential target for small and medium poultry businesses. Ahmed eyes to invest heavily in this untapped market in a country that has seen a growing appetite for poultry products as residents embraced this new diet.

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