*The following story is narrated in a first-person point of view
It might sound a bit clichéd, but I truly believe in the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. To me, if you’re really determined and give it your all, you can tackle any obstacle and make your dreams come true.
I am glad that I’ve proven this to be true. As a laying hens’ farmer in Tanjung Harapan Village, West Kalimantan, along with fellow Usaha Bersama members, we have set up a business to provide for our families and community and ultimately improve our lives.
My family, my motivation
My hen farming journey wasn’t easy, but it has been worth every step. Before starting this business, I worked odd jobs with irregular income. The majority of my time was devoted to looking after my family.
While I will always find caring for my family fulfilling, I want to be more than a homemaker. I want to bring in money to support my family’s needs. This aspiration prompted me to team up with seven like-minded individuals to form a farmer group to elevate our family’s well-being.
The idea of starting a hen farming business emerged during a community gathering. I was chatting with other farmers and homemakers in our community about our collective challenges and how we could work together for a better future for our families. The notion of poultry farming piqued our interest, given our rural area and the challenges we have in getting fresh eggs. Knowing that eggs are a fantastic nutritional resource, the irresistible appeal of having fresh eggs daily made poultry farming the clear choice for us. Before we knew it, we had formed a farmer group dedicated to making this idea a reality.
Poultry farming was unfamiliar territory for most of us, but we were eager to learn. We attended workshops and sought guidance from experienced farmers, including those introduced by GAR’s Bright Future Initiative team.
Bright Future Initiative not only furnished us with practical hard skills and valuable resources for hen farming but also offered a comprehensive understanding of effective business management. We learned how to identify potential markets for selling our eggs, calculate startup costs, manage finances, and oversee distribution channels. Acquiring hands-on expertise and a firm understanding of business know-how at the same time set a solid foundation for our business to grow.
And so, in 2019, my group and I kickstarted our business with 300 chicks, cages, feed, and a package of medicines.
Many of the tasks involved in caring for the chickens are physically labourious – such as feeding the chickens, cleaning the cages, and preparing herbal medicine for them.
We have also faced external challenges in running our business. For example, the weather in our home is often unpredictable, with the threat of floods. In the rainy season, we work together to relocate the coops to elevated areas, disconnect the batteries from the cages to prevent short circuits, and continuously clear drainage channels to allow water to flow away from the coops.
The silver lining in all of this is that rearing the flock alongside my responsibilities as a homemaker has unearthed a strength within me I never knew existed. Moreover, I got better at balancing my time between family and work, growing both as a business owner and a mother.
Most of all, my relationship with my group partners has also blossomed. We not only share tasks but also share ideas that have helped our business do well. Through all of this, I’ve not only learned more about raising chickens, but I’ve also made really good friends that make my life better both at work and at home.
Plenty on the plate
For me and my family, hen farming brings an additional plus point – fresh eggs right at our doorstep. Collecting warm eggs each morning from my contented hens is a daily source of happiness. Our current egg production is an impressive 430 eggs per day, produced from 482 chickens. This translates to nearly 13,000 eggs per month, all finding buyers without fail.
Knowing that I can put fresh and nutritious food on the table for my family offers me a sense of security. Moreover, the days of fretting over egg quality and origins are a thing of the past. With my own flock of hens, I know exactly where my food comes from and the conditions in which it is produced.
It’s not just about my family though – being able to provide these eggs to my community also fills me with a sense of purpose. Knowing that I’m contributing to my neighbours’ meals and helping them access wholesome, locally-produced food brings a special kind of satisfaction.
Our future goals
While business is booming, we’re setting our sights on even brighter horizons.
Composting is a prospect waiting to be unlocked on our farm. With heaps of nutrient-rich hen manure at our disposal, it is a sustainable way to manage waste and create organic compost for local gardeners.
We are also looking into exciting opportunities for expansion, including growing our flock and improving our infrastructure. We hope that our success doesn’t just mean a steadier income for our families but inspires fellow farmers in our community to embark on similar ventures.
From humble beginnings to a thriving business, I’m excited to witness our business flourish. This journey has been nothing short of rewarding, and I’m filled with anticipation for what the future holds for us.
Point of view/Narration: Ernawati is a laying hen farmer in Tanjung Harapan village, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. She has been running a laying hen business with her farmer group, Usaha Bersama, since 2019.
Bu Ernawati and her farmer group are one of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) supported by GAR’s Bright Future Initiative.
Our Bright Future Initiative aims to team up with local communities to boost their economy and help them become more resilient in the long run.
We take an active interest in building stronger communities. From strategic partnerships to promoting economic empowerment, we are in the business of growing.
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