Mogadishu – For the past four years, Ahmed Hassan Ali has woken up at the crack-of-dawn, to tend to his flock of chicken, in an expansive farmhouse in Mogadishu’s Dayniile district.
A typical day at Ahmed’s farm starts with the cleaning of the chicken coops, feeding the chicks and collecting freshly laid eggs, which are neatly packed into boxes and delivered to customers across the city.
“Our products need to get to the market on the same day, otherwise they will not sell. Customers don’t care whether there were transport challenges or not,” explains Ahmed who uses his fleet of 11 vehicles to deliver the eggs. “We have networks of restaurants and shops, that buy our products”.
Ahmed started his poultry business in 2014 with modest savings, which he used to buy 5-thousand layer chicks. He set up the business on a rented a piece of land in the capital.
Four years later, his business has grown exponentially, providing employment to at least one-hundred youths. The poultry farm currently rears some 25,000 chicks, which lay 18,000 eggs on a daily basis, earning the business enough money to sustain itself.
The 45-year old businessman says he saw an opportunity for a poultry business after realizing that there was a huge untapped market in Somalia. Despite the poor infrastructure, fragile security situation, and the preference for red meat by most Somalis, Ahmed was determined to excel in the business.
“Chicken meat and eggs is a new diet to city residents, although my customers are beginning to get used to the habit of eating eggs and chicken,” remarks Ahmed, who also propagates healthier dietary choices.
Like most communities, food is central to Somalia’s culture. And while the Somali diet is largely meat driven, Ahmed sensitizes his customers on the benefits of eating lean white meats such as chicken and fish, as a healthy alternative to red meat.
The middle aged farmer has invested heavily in technology and modern equipment to run his farm. An automated feeding machine, egg collection and manure removal equipment, is just some of the modern equipment found on his farm.
Ahmed hopes to increase the number of layer chicks from the current 25,000 to 100,000 chicks by the end of 2019, as he explores an expansion strategy beyond Mogadishu. Other than eggs and chicken, Ahmed is seriously considering venturing into fish exports.
“We have achieved some success and we aspire to reach the rest of the country and satisfy the demand in other regions and eventually export to neighboring countries,” he states.
Widely known for its un-tapped fish resources, Somalia, which suffered over two decades of war and an insurgency by al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab militants, still lacks vital infrastructure to support exports of fresh meats.
Ahmed underscores the importance of reviving these essential services to resuscitate the fishing industry in the Horn of Africa country. “The services were rendered inactive as a result of the civil war. But, our mission now, is to revive them.”
With the intervention of the African Union peacekeepers eleven years ago, the country is on a steady path to full recovery, thanks to the existing peace and stability, an environment which has supported growth in many sectors.
The African Union is working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure a secure environment for businesses to thrive.