Gambian woman collects eggs from hens

'This poultry is the gold mine in my backyard'

3 July 2023
ITC News

Isatou Ceesay is a smallholder poultry farmer in Mamud Faana in the Central River Region of The Gambia. In 2019, ITC supported the roll-out of on-the-job training for 45 poultry farmers under the European Union-funded Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) programme for youth and women. Isatou was one of them.

Before she underwent the training, Isatou kept some poultry at her house, where she would sell the little she could for her family’s sustenance.

Occasionally, Isatou would encounter significant setbacks when the birds fell sick. She needed to learn more about how to care for and manage sick birds.

‘When one of the birds falls sick, I did not know what to do,’ she said. ‘So, the sickness would spread among the birds, and many would die. This caused me great discomfort as I did not know how to administer sick birds or even medicate them.’

Through the training, she and the other participants gained first-hand experience in both production and marketing of broilers.


Start-up kits to grow businesses

After completing the training, they were supported with start-up kits to launch businesses in their community. The initiative builds on the new curricula and standards for poultry production that ITC developed in partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority.

After the training, Isatou received startup support for 150 chicks.

‘From the 150 chicks that I received, I managed and multiplied them until I reached about 500 hens. That is when I diversified and included layers onto the broilers that I already had. I can sell at least three crates per day at 300 dalasis ($5) per crate,’ she said.

Financial management is a significant component in the growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The training boosted Isatou’s financial literacy skills.

‘Before the training, I would just sell and spend all the money on my needs and that of my family. But now, I have registered my business and opened an account where I make regular monthly savings. I now divide my profits to save part, spend some on my household needs and reinvest a quarter.’

Isatou now runs one of the biggest poultry businesses in Mamud Faana. She has customers from neighbouring communities and makes even more sales during big market days.

Isatou was full of praise for the JSF programme.

‘I have realised how much money one can make in this business. This poultry is the gold mine in my backyard. I, therefore, intend to focus solely on it. This initiative has helped me grow so much that I have now taught my daughter, who is 16 years old, almost everything I learned. Now, she even administers injections on sick birds in other poultries within Mamud Faana. I plan to register my daughter’s business so that she becomes as empowered as I am.’

Like many others who benefitted from this initiative, Isatou’s story is about hope, persistence, and determination for success. And as she indicated, this is just the beginning.

About the programme

The Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) for Women and Youth in The Gambia Programme funded by the 11th European Development Fund is implemented by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in collaboration with the International Trade Center (ITC). The project has an overarching focus on promoting a green economy such as renewable energy, sustainable construction and eco-tourism.