Hailing from Keiskammahoek in the Eastern Cape, chicken farmer Kamvelihle Mpapayeli has dedicated the past three years to raising her feathered friends, whilst also running a make-up business.
As a child, their backyard was not just a playground for the little ones. It was home to chickens her parents kept in the yard. It is there that she grew a deep liking for poultry.
So, with an unwavering determination to start a poultry farm and make a living out of it, Mpapayeli started her own farming business, focusing on the beloved chickens she grew up with.
Driven by passion
“My poultry business’ name is Silumko Poultry Farm, and it’s situated in my homeland,” she says.
“I started farming because I was driven by my love and passion for it. It’s within me. It’s my birthright. I’m also a makeup artist but I’ve always known I’m not a city girl, and I just enjoy the farm and rural life.”
Mpapayeli says she chose to specialise in poultry because of the consistent and growing demand for poultry products not just locally but globally as well. Also, compared to other livestock, poultry has a short production cycle, she explains.
Mpapayeli knows how to make money
To generate an income and sustain cash flow, Mpapayeli takes factors like efficient management and cost control quite seriously. She has also started exploring diversified revenue streams.
“I’ve started selling eggs, meat, and manure. I implement proper health measures to minimise losses and explore value-added products like processed chicken or organic eggs. I deal with around 300 boilers per two weeks.
“Building strong supplier relationships and adopting technology for monitoring can enhance efficiency. Additionally, market research to understand consumer demands can help tailor your products for better profitability,” she shares.
Mpapayeli knows a thing or two about budgeting and financial planning, thanks to her qualification in financial literacy.
“I use my skills to create comprehensive budgets. I can also manage the financial risks associated with poultry farming,” she says. “Balancing farming, a personal life, and a career as a makeup artist requires effective time management and prioritisation.”
To stand out as a unique poultry farmer, Mpapayeli tells Food for Mzansi how she has considered implementing innovative practices and focusing on aspects that differentiate her from others in the industry.
Selecting the right breed for your business
“I’ve learned to specialise in niche markets. I identify niche markets or unique poultry breeds that have specific demands. I specialise in the Ross breed because it is the fastest growing broiler breed and the world’s number one breed of chicken. It also the tastiest,” she shares.
Furthermore, Mpapayeli takes pride in producing quality poultry products. She does this by ensuring that her birds are well cared for, healthy, and raised in humane conditions.
“I consider factors like balanced nutrition, sufficient water, proper housing for ventilation, and disease prevention. Quality often translates into customer loyalty,” says Mpapayeli.
Strategies for success
Social media marketing has also been a powerful tool for promoting her poultry business. Using Facebook, Mpapayeli shares how she has created a content calendar that helps her plan her posts in advance.
“Also, engaging with my clientele helps a lot, and I go on to share my story and where I started.”
Farming is not without challenges and Mpapayeli flags unpredictability and vulnerability to external factors as some of the most challenging aspects of being a farmer. Then there is also weather conditions, market fluctuations, and financial risks.
“Load shedding can be challenging for broiler farming due to disruptions in temperature control, lighting, and ventilation.
“I’m investing in backup power sources like generators or battery-powered systems to maintain a stable environment. What I have learned is that overcoming these challenges requires resilience, adaptability, and a proactive approach.”
Building a supportive network within the agricultural community is also important, she highlights.
Growing to new levels
Despite the challenges, Mpapayeli is willing and looking forward to growing her poultry farming business and finding new way of diversifying her farming portfolio.
While she works on her diversification strategy, Mpapayeli looks forward to taking her business to new heights.
“I’m working towards having bigger land, building a bigger shelter and producing weekly. Also, I’d like to own a chicken butchery and a restaurant.
“There are so many key aspects to consider first before I enter the larger industry, like global demand, economic factors, the regulatory environment, technology adaptation, and many more,” she shares,
However, Mpapayeli believes she is contributing to the long-term success of her poultry venture and is adamant to grow it bigger and better.
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