The International Egg Commission recently gave its Crystal Egg Award for outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility to Center Fresh Egg Farms. Brothers Bruce and Kim Dooyema, part owners of Center Fresh, began exploring opportunities for egg production in Mozambique in 2006. The brothers are active with Partners Worldwide, a group that is committed to using business as a ministry for creating a world without poverty. An old proverb illustrates the focus of Partners Worldwide: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”

Why Mozambique?  

Mozambique is located in Southeastern Africa, north of South Africa and west of the Indian Ocean. There is good arable land that is underutilized. Some Brazilian companies are working to develop row crop operations. The standard of living is relatively low in Mozambique and there is a lot of unemployment.

Mozambique’s nearly five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development until the mid 1990s. The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy.

Mozambique now has one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, growing at 7% to 8% per year. Since 2001, Mozambique has ranked among the top ten countries in the world for fastest GDP growth. Kim said that good land was available to be farmed, “the people just needed someone to walk beside them” and help to show them the way.

Mozambique Fresh Eggs  

Entrepreneur Andrew Cunningham was developing a broiler business in Mozambique, and he thought the egg business had potential as well. The Dooyema brothers researched the market potential for eggs, evaluated the sourcing of feed inputs, and determined the amount of capital required to start the business. Several of the needed inputs such as a feed mill and hatchery were already in place to support the broiler business.

Mozambique Fresh Eggs now has around 8,000 hens in lay, and has 7,000 more about to come into production. All the birds are housed on the floor in curtain-sided, naturally ventilated buildings. Kim said they will evaluate whether or not cage production makes sense at a later date.

Advertisement

Feed is mixed at a mill shared with the broiler operation. Ingredients and finished feeds are packed in 110-pound sacks which are carried by workers.

There are challenges at almost every step when you start an operation from scratch without infrastructure in place; there is a lot to think about, according to Kim. But there is potential; the farm is located in an area with high population, on a road that is about to be paved, with access to a rail line, and they have electric power.

There is currently no cold chain infrastructure, so the eggs are sold the day they are laid. Some eggs are marketed to young adults who line up to buy the eggs and take them home on their bicycles to hard boil them. Using their bicycles, these entrepreneurs travel up and down streets selling the hard-boiled eggs. Other eggs are marketed to surrounding communities and cities.

There is a good market for the spent layers, which can be sold to individuals live or processed at the broiler plant. Kim said one person bought 50 hens and hauled them away on the back of a motorcycle.

Building for the future  

Kim said that they see the potential for the business to grow to 30-35 thousand layers. “We consider this to be a viable business, but we look at it from a triple bottom line standpoint, social, economic and spiritual,” Kim said. “It is a way to give back; it is a way to help develop an economy; it is a way to help develop relationships. We think it can be good long term economically.”

Mozambique Fresh Eggs isn’t just providing high quality animal protein and jobs to people in Mozambique. The company has helped to provide the land for a vocational agriculture school which will start next year. The school is patterned after a similar school in Zimbabwe that charges tuition, but students are provided with a plot of land to clear and plant, and they sell their crops. The money the students earn farming is used to pay back the loans they are given to cover their tuition. Graduates are then prepared to contribute to agricultural production of their communities and to support their families.