Kenyan Farmer Makes Nutritious Biscuits Using Quail Eggs
The quail farming fad in Kenya, which had started a few years ago, was at its highest when the tiny bird’s egg retailed at the improbable price of Sh100 each.
Almost all homesteads in central Kenya, some estates in Nairobi and parts of eastern had joined the gravy train, raising the birds whose eggs were touted to be remedies or to at least provide relief for such conditions as high blood pressure, arthritis and HIV. The quail egg, that in most cases was eaten together with the shell, was said to be more nutritious with more protein, phosphorous and vitamins than other poultry eggs.
Kenyans rushed for the Sh2,000 yearly licenses from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to raise the otherwise wild bird, while others simply ignored the rule and put the birds somewhere in the kitchen in anticipation of big bucks within a few months. Initially, a mature bird was going for between Sh100 and Sh150, but by mid 2013, the price of a bird had shot to Sh800 and a day old chick was going for Sh150. In places like Kiambu, there was at least one incubator in every village.
Indeed, many a peasant farmer and brokers got the much needed financial break through quail farming and the subsequent sale of the bird’s eggs, but the venture was short lived and bound to burn the fingers of many.
Just as suddenly as the weirdly crowing birds happened on the scene, they (or more specifically their keepers) were devastatingly falling from grace and profitability by the last two months of 2013.
By July 2013, with demand for day old quails at its highest, Godfrey Kinyanjui, a hatchery owner, was swept into the business, hatching thousands of the quail eggs per week for farmers in Kikuyu and beyond. Around October, he also started keeping his own quails “although not in a big way”, but come December, all things fell apart and the quail business went under in one big swoop.
“By the time the business collapsed, I was stranded with more than 25,000 quail chicks with farmers who had ordered for chicks declining to take their birds instead demanding that I pay them back their deposit. I could not feed all these birds so most of them died and my main occupation at that time was to burn their carcasses,” he says.
Subsequently Kinyanjui and another quail farmer formed the Godfrey and Geoffrey Game Products Company (G and G) whose aim was to use quail eggs to make biscuits. From the proverbial ashes of the 25,000 birds he had destroyed by fire, he hatched 1,000 chicks early this year.
“In February we took our idea to the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (Kirdi), with our intended markets being relief agencies and hospitals, who are the major consumers of nutritional supplements, currently imported from abroad,” says Kinyanjui.
G and G did product development with the assistance of government research institutions between February and June this year, before embarking on production at Kinyanjui’s farm in Kikuyu. The product has been accorded the standardization mark by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the ministry of health has passed the biscuits as fit for human consumption.
He says the biscuits and cakes, that are fortified in vitamins and minerals, are nutritious and should essentially be consumed by expectant mothers, those who have just given birth and the malnourished. Other ingredients beside quail eggs include wheat and soya flours.
The biscuits retail at Sh150 for the 200 grammes packet while the cakes cost Sh150 for a pack of four or six depending on size.
By Njonjo Kihuria