By Ronald Musoke
President Yoweri Museveni will on Sept. 30 launch a new ultra-modern broiler farm and chicken-processing facility in the Central Uganda district of Luweero.
The farm believed to be the biggest in East Africa is nestled on 64 acres in Bulemezi, Semuto, about 50 km outside of Kampala and is owned by Hudani Manji Holdings, an independent family business which is also the parent company of Yo-Kuku, a brand of fresh and frozen chicken processed to international standards.
Speaking to the press in Kampala on Sept. 23 ahead of the official launch, Rafik Manji, the company’s Managing Director said Hudani Holdings is responding to the demand for chicken protein which is on the rise in Uganda especially among the growing middle-class, whose lifestyles are changing to appreciate white –meat based diets.
“This demand has quickly outstripped supply because there is no dominant integrated player in the Uganda poultry sector that is itself, highly unregulated and mostly informal,” he said
Manji explained that the farm intends to focus on filling this supply gap with a fresh approach to poultry, through consistent production and assured product availability.
The farm consists of a four metric tonne feed-mill, four 25,000 capacity broiler houses, two-newly commissioned environmentally controlled and automated broiler houses with a capacity of 40,000 birds each and a 15,000 square metre abattoir as part of an integrated agri-business venture.
Alykhan Hudani, the company board chairman added: “We believe that poultry is a product that should be affordable and accessible to everybody. Chicken should be an everyday part of people’s lives, not spared for festivities.”
The farm is an integrated agri-business venture and currently consists of a four metric tonne per hour feed-mill, eight broiler houses, and a 15,000 square feet and highly mechanized abattoir.
All the main ingredients for the feed mill are sourced locally, to produce the best quantity and quality feeds for that distinguished taste in the farm’s end product.
Manji said with the growth of the farm, he expects an increase in investment in primary agriculture and processing of crops like maize and soya beans.
On the broiler farm, birds are reared in environmentally controlled and automated houses and more birds can be reared per square metre with a higher live weight and lower mortality.
The farm’s processing facility is also the first highly mechanized abattoir in Uganda and the largest chicken processing facility in East Africa. The farm’s abattoir processes about 2,500 birds per hour and 220,000 birds per week. The current capacity is 260,000 birds per eight-week cycle.
The investors have set up cold storage facilities that include transport for both chilled and frozen distribution and ensure that the chicken that reaches the customer is fresh and of the best quality.
To keep up with the expected standards, the company holds the STAR and food safety systems certification (FSSC22000) in Uganda for outstanding performance in quality control. Other certifications held are Halal and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
“It is our vision to supersede the highest industry standards by maintaining consistent hygiene in delivering the best value-for-money chicken in Uganda and the East African region,” Manji said.
The company’s chicken is available to wholesale customers primarily, but will be introduced to the retail market before the end of 2014.
Already the farm is supplying Kentucky Fried Chicken, a global fast food franchise which recently opened in Kampala as well as Fresh Cuts, a leading food processor in Uganda whose supply chain veins through many parts of East Africa.
The farm also supplies Mr. Tasty, a fast food take-away with one of the fastest growing footprints in Kampala and Cayenne Express, a new fast food take-away chain located inside Nakumatt supermarkets. The company also has plans to branch into the retail market to exploit opportunities for export in the region.
Manji said, the company would in the next two years team up with local chicken farmers to rear and supply chicken to the abattoir.
Francis Gachumba, who is the farm’s Feed Mill Manager, said the company had invested heavily in technology to make sure that quality, cost and delivery to meet whatever the customer needs is met.
However, Manji said there is still a big problem of having reliable electricity from the national grid and as a result the company runs on the generator 90% of the day which in away affects the price of the chicken.