Nnamdi has been able to transform poultry farming from a childhood hobby to a viable business venture. He started out with 22 birds and was funded by his Dad. Over the years, he maintained a small subsistence poultry while studying to earn a degree in Business Administration from the University Of Nigeria, Nsukka.
After undergoing the mandatory National Youth Service Scheme(NYSC), Nnamdi sought paid employment but to no avail. “My intention was to get a paying job whilst I run the farm as a part time venture. However, after combing the streets for months on end, the plan had to change”, he said. Today, his younger brother who is an Electrical Engineer by training assists him in running the farm.
When he decided to go into full-time poultry farming, he sought funding from family members; in form of loans. So far, Nnamdi has been unable to access any form of funding from either the government or from banks including the Bank of Agriculture. This lack of funding reflects on the farm in little ways. There is no form of insurance cover on the birds since his focus is on feeding the birds and then converting the farm to a battery cage system farm.
Running a poultry farm has not been without its challenges. Inexperience has cost Nnamdi dearly in the past. In 2003, whilst still at the university, he purchased 700 birds but lost 540 of them to Gumboro disease. He had followed the advice of non-professionals and given the birds two rounds of vaccination rather than four. This experience caused him to recruit a veterinary doctor to work on the farm on a part-time basis.
In 2005, Nnamdi’s Dad assisted with funds to rent a plot of land for the farm. He went ahead to populate the farm with 1000 birds. The birds laid excellently and the farm made a handsome profit from them. The farm relocated to its present site when the rented plot was sold by the owners in 2007. Moving the birds caused some of them to die because of the stress.
The farm didn’t suffer any major setbacks until early in 2012. A batch of 2300 day old chicks was purchased from a local hatchery. However, he lost a total of 2150 to Marek’s disease. The hatchery claimed it was a result of vaccine failure and promised to replace the birds. This promise was never fulfilled and he ended up replacing the birds from his own funds. “That was a very dark and frustrating period for us. I almost gave up but for the grace of God and encouragement from family, friends and even customers” Nnamdi said. Fortunately, the farm still had a buffer stock of over 1000 birds to cushion the loss.
These days, Vimek farms rarely loses a bird. The farm sources its day old chicks from reputable hatcheries and practises the preventive method of animal health care. With the introduction of a new batch of birds into the farm, random blood samples are taken to the Animal Care Lab for screening. The birds on the farm are carefully monitored to ensure that treatment is given as soon as any signs of illness are noticed. A strict routine is maintained for cleaning and disinfecting the farm to ensure a healthy environment for birds and staff.
Poultry farming might not be one of the first things that a young person would consider going into. So, what motivates Nnamdi?
“In the beginning, My Dad encouraged me to consider making this a full time business. He pointed out that I had been unemployed for a while and that there were few jobs available. Over time, I saw other people doing it and succeeding. Presently, I look at my bank balance and I’m motivated to remain in business since obviously, this business pays. Today, I am no longer looking for someone to employ me. Rather I am creating employment for the work force.”
He advises young people to “start up something. You may have setbacks but don’t give up. Every setback is an experience that will help you grow, if you persist.”
When asked if girls find farmers attractive, Nnamdi reflected that, “girls don’t like farming. They think of it as a dirty job. I don’t think that a girl with nail polish wants to hang out with a farmer. I’m not saying that you cannot find them but I am saying that since I was young and now that I am old in the business, I have not found such a girl”. He however concedes that he has not put much effort into finding Ms. Right as he works for over ten hours a day.
Today, Vimek farms boasts of over 4000 birds and is a major supplier of eggs to the quick service restaurant industry in Anambra State. It also operates an outlet at the Awka Main Market. Manure from the farm is sold to vegetable farmers in the state. Nnamdi’s future plans include switching from a deep litter system to a battery cage as well as diversifying into poultry feed production and developing his 1 acre cassava farm.