Youngest AAA Member in profitable pig business

The pig industry has been majorly male dominated for the longest time ever until 24 year-old Cynthia Laichena Makena decided to try her hand in the lucrative business. She is amongst the new member Africa Agribusiness Academy Kenya chapter team.

Initially when she started Nalai Farm in 2011, she had two pigs. Over the years, the number has grown to 50, all baconers. On average, its costs about KSh12,500 to feed one pig. This means that 80 per cent of the profit goes to feeding. “A few weeks back, I had to slaughter 300 pigs for a farmer who was quitting due to the high cost of feeds.

Last year, she opened up a pork centre in Muranga town. Makena collaborates with farmers with larger numbers of pigs to take them to the slaughter house. This becomes more cost effective. Unlike in other sectors where farmers have long term relationships with those they supply their produce to, Makena says she prefers short term relationships with the farmers because it is not safe to rely on specific farmers.

“A farmer you are in contract with might be offered a better price than what you are offering. At the end of the day, you have nothing to sell,” notes Makena. She is an active member of Isinya Pig Cooperative, a cooperative of pig farmers with 150 members where each farmer has an average of 50 pigs. 70 per cent of the members are women. It helps to pay the farmers on time and treat them well. She does not deal with brokers as they ruin that relationship with the farmer.

The business has not been without challenges. Access to capital has been the biggest challenge. She says if it were not for her supportive husband, she would not have a business. Lack of technical knowhow is equally a big challenge.

Makena links the farmers to others and gives referrals to others. One of her biggest clients is San Valencia Hotel in Nairobi which enjoys her pork. She also does home deliveries. Apart from the pork business, she also has a farm se has leased. She hopes to grow red and yellow capsicums, strawberries and Kamande, a type of cereal in the lentils family

Her expectations from AAA include getting more business contacts and links, access to information and training. She hopes that Kenyan banks can have their tailor made loan products for farmers, favorable interest rates and flexible repayment period. “A little bit of value addition in everything you do pays,” says Makena.