The young champ who has unfolded his life similar to his farming business, a chicken lifespan. For as much as we need oxygen to live, we also need to eat. Food supply chain is part and parcel of our daily routine. It is here for as long as we live. Lefa Maseema is proving that with broiler meat supplies. He is one of the supervisors where he works, on one of the largest broiler chicken farms. As young as he is, born in September 1996, he has shown such a remarkable potential from as early as 14 years of age while he was still at school. Fortunately for him; he was brought up and exposed to the chicken business from an early age, and that made him to love working on the chicken farm from day one. The Village Mag had the opportunity to have a conversation to ask him some few questions regarding what his ordinary days are like at the chicken farm. What made you to be here?
What made you to be here?
Well I think that foundations laid by the generations that came before me had a huge impact and influence in my lifestyle and being farm oriented. I am the fourth generation of farmers in our family. It is more about legacy than it is about business and its obligations.
Why chicken farming or chicken specifically?
I feel that one needs to embrace their own identity. In my authenticity, I find myself being an animal lover and everything that has to do with nature and farming. Poultry on the one hand has been the prime farming objective coupled with environmental awareness. On the other hand, crop and vegetables are what introduced me to farming way back when in was 5 years old. I am the fourth generation of farmers in our family tree. Although crops and vegetables were a priority in our family back then, the family has moved slowly to poultry farming from the 3rd generation.
What are the challenges one can face with poultry farming?
When farming with poultry, diseases are the arch enemy. For instance, a healthy flock can be wiped out by a Newcastle disease or the most feared avian influenza. This is a real challenge but it can be controlled to a minor degree by following bio-security precautions. Droughts on the other hand puts limitations on crop yield. This then increases the scarcity of raw materials to make feed and forces mills to import, which increases the cost to produce the end product. Understanding how how the whole poultry process works, the basics and intricacies including the product value chain is very imperative in this industry especially on the commercial side. Winter time is very tricky as well. The cold harsh weather brings greater risks. I personally think if a poultry farmer is able to perform consistently throughout the year, then that farmer knows what they are doing. During winter, temperatures are very low, which means you will spend more on heating systems, however ventilation is the main topic. Because if one does not fully gasp the concept, mortality (death rate) rates is bound to increase due to inadequate ventilation over ventilating.
If you were not working on poultry production, what would be another option for career path?
Mechanical engineering or a rally race driver. I have always been a fan of speed and also designing mechanical equipment that can be aid in our day to day lives. A hydro – mechanical bicycle or all train four wheeler that is driven by panels, hooked to a scale sized with double-clutch transmission with 7 gear ratios. That would be very impressive and really fast.
If you were to relive your life, would you still take the same path?
Yes, however; the are some career choices that i would have really thought through like starting my own enterprise instead of working for an entity. That way, in would be doing things according to my understanding and utilizing my intuition to guide my own entity. You see farming is in my blood, even if I were to become a doctor or mechanic, I would still want to own a farm.
Besides being employed, what else are you currently busy with?
A lot. I am currently studying to attain a diploma in animal production. I have seen how life – changing it is to be doing something for an extended period of time without really knowing why it should be done then later study the theory behind it and get a really broad sense of understanding the concept, (and vice versa). It reminds me of how specialized knowledge there can be in any given subject or object. I put this gained insight in my production which helps to yields better results more often than not. In the long -term, I see myself owning entities in the agriculture sector. From your poultry, cattle, piggery, small stock, vegetables and crops. I have started with migration from occupation to an entrepreneur, with the plan of starting a lucrative farming business. I have been networking and engaging with lots of businessmen and businesswomen with the attempt to lure financial aid to establish a farm. I know for sure that things take time and I am patient enough to trust the process.
All the best in your studies and future endeavors Lefa.
Thank you Team TVM for the opportunity!