Many are those who dream to land themselves white collar jobs in air-conditioned offices, but for 38-year-old Francis Benyin, the Headmaster of Asikuma Catholic Girls’ Junior High School (JHS), he sees beyond the comfort of air-conditioned offices.
He wants to be on the field as a poultry farmer.
According to him, poultry farming has not only given him a true compensation for his sweat and toils - it has also helped him to live the life he dreamt of, as well as enabling him to help others to feed their families by way of employment.
Mr Benyin, the Executive Director of Benjap Co. Ltd, a poultry farm enterprise, started his life as a trained teacher.
Being passionate about his work, he rose through the ranks to become the Head teacher of the Asikuma Catholic Girls JHS, the school with the highest student population in the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa District of the Central region.
His dedication to duty led to his school becoming the best performing school in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in the district in 2017.
But having seen all angles of teaching, Mr Benyin decided to pursue his longtime dream - farming.
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His decision to go into farming was propelled by a statement his lecturer once told him that “If you want to live an average life, you can keep to a single source of income, but if you want to live your dream life, you need to get other sources of income.”
For Mr Benyin, the other source of income would be agriculture, particularly poultry farming.
As someone with a strong business sense, he felt that since Ghana imported a lot of poultry products, there would be a high demand and an available market for poultry products, hence his decision to go into poultry farming.
Mr Benyin initially started the poultry farm with a colleague in 2012, before starting his own farm about four years ago.
As the days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years, Mr Benyin can now boast of about 2,000 birds, employing eight people directly and hundreds of people indirectly in his poultry business.
His poultry farm sits on a two-acre land.
Some of the birds at Mr Benyi’s farm
Speaking with the Daily Graphic, Mr Benyin, who is married to a nurse with two children, said considering the potential in poultry business, Ghana could stop the importation of poultry products if players in the industry were supported to expand their farms.
According to him, many of the poultry farmers like himself, could not expand their businesses due to the lack of capital.
He explained that since poultry was a capital intensive venture, he would need a huge amount of money to expand his farm and that many financial institutions would grant such loans only if the applicants could produce a collateral, which most of the farmers did not have.
Mr Benyin believes that if government supported poultry farmers in rural communities, it would help to prevent rural-urban migration as well as reduce the high unemployment rate in the country.
According to him, many young men and women migrate from the rural communities to the urban cities to chase non-existing white-collar jobs due to lack of employment avenues in the rural communities.
He added that if access to financial services were made flexible to farmers, many young men and women in rural communities would create their own jobs and even employ others by going into farming, particularly poultry farming.
My Benyi's poultry
Mr Benyin said there was an available market for poultry products in the country and abroad, saying “in view of the huge market for poultry products in the Central Region and the country as a whole, I cannot meet their demands.”
“I got to know that many people in my area want eggs. And we don’t have any big poultry farm in the area.
They are all small scale farms so I took it upon myself to secure a two-acre land to start the farm,” he told the Daily Graphic.
According to him, the structure he had put up on his land could take about 4,000 birds.
He blamed the lack of enthusiasm on the part of many people and the shunning of agriculture for white-collar jobs on the lack of funds for them to expand their farms to enable them to maximise profits.
For Mr Benyin, who is also a board member of the Asikuma Catholic Church, poultry farmers in the country had the capacity to supply the poultry products the country needed if only they were supported financially by the government and development oriented institutions.
Mr Benyin, who said he had acquired additional lands at Apam in the Gomoa West District for future expansion of his poultry farm, told the Daily Graphic that he was able to buy a land and build his house through poultry farming; something he couldn’t do after teaching for more than 15 years.
“Poultry farming has changed my life,” he said, adding “I couldn’t even buy a land having taught as a professional teacher for so many years.”
“When my students see me now, they know farming has changed my life,” Mr Benyin said, adding that occasionally, he takes some of his students to his farm to have practical experience on poultry farming.