Story by By MUNENE KAMAU
From Standard Digital News
As many youths grumble over soaring unemployment, Leonard Mbucho is a happy man. In his early 30s and with modest education, he is pocketing an average of Sh100,000 a month from a rare bird business.
In his one-storey structure in Gacharu village, Kirinyaga County, Mbucho rears hundreds of birds which include quails, turkey, the Egyptian goose, ordinary goose, the Ugandan cranes, ducks, turkey, pigeons, and guinea fowls, among other varieties of poultry.
But the rare quails stand out. The birds are highly valued for their pricey meat and eggs and their proven medicinal value.
The investment started a year ago after he came across the quails in Karatina where Mzee Kiongo Kamau had stocked the birds.
“I had just paid a visit to Mzee Kamau and within his homestead I could hear bird sounds coming from a wooden structure,” he said.
He developed interest in the tiny birds and secured 15 of them after learning from Kamau how they mature as demand for the eggs continues to grow.
In the Bible, God provided the Israelites with quails and manna in order to survive as they traversed the hot desert from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan.
Today the tamed bird is a delicacy especially among the Luhya who refer to it as Isidu. The Luo call the bird Aluru.
And the bird sells like hot cake in select restaurants within Nairobi and other restaurants are slowly adopting to it. It is also highly sought after for its medicinal value.
According to a British researcher Dr Carrie Ruxton, although quail eggs have low calories, they are rich in protein nutrients important to health such as vitamin D and B, Selenium and Chorine.
The researcher also found out that the eggs contain a higher variety of amino acids that are indispensable for healthy growth and development as compared to other proteinous foods.
Ruxton also found out in his research that the high levels of antioxidants in the quail egg help in preventing age-related muscular degeneration.
It is perhaps out of these research findings that Mbucho has ventured into massive rearing of this wonder bird within his home. Mbucho, a young man who dropped out of school at Form Four ten years ago due to lack of school fees, is reaping high profits from this venture.
Initially, he had bought the birds for ornamental purposes but since then he has never looked back and today the population has risen to over 1,000.
He says demand for the eggs is more than supply with a single non-fertilised egg going for Sh25 for medicinal purposes while the fertilised one for breeding goes for Sh30.
According to the farmer, diabetic people and those suffering from high blood pressure prefer these eggs hence the high demand.
Mbucho also sells a single bird at Sh250 irrespective of its sex, though many buyers seek for the females.
The farmer says he is able to earn on average Sh100,000 per month from the proceeds of both the eggs and the birds. Through these proceeds he has been able to provide for his family and has built a house.
Upcoming farmers also learn from him as he has been able to multiply the birds with ease due to the incubator he has installed within his shamba.
So far, Mbucho is unable to meet the high demand for the eggs and is urging youths consider the quail rearing business. He also says he would be willing to help start-up farmers by buying the eggs and incubating them as well as rearing the chicks for two weeks without any extra charge.