Man standing near chicken

How a solar-powered cold room increased a poultry farm’s productivity

The first time we spoke, he was apologetic. He didn’t have five minutes to spare for an interview. It was a very busy day at LaVie Chicken Solutions—he had hundreds of chickens to “dress”.

By Adaobi Oniwinde on Mar 10, 2021

These days, Nkonyeasua Igudia is a poultry farmer. Yet, the Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University in historic Ile Ife, Osun State, didn’t set out to become a farmer. He says his passion for animals, the 1994 Association of Academic Staff Union (AASU) strike that closed universities around the country and boredom, led him to farming.

“I love animals and really enjoy raising them. I was in my fourth year during the AASU strike, so I went home and started a pig farm,” said Igudia.

His father ran the farm when Igudia returned to school to pursue a second degree in Computer Science.

“It grew into a very large farm, then my father retired, left Ife and moved to the village with the farm,” he said.

Igudia spent the next 20 years in IT, abandoning his passion to make a living. Until he noticed a trend in his finances.

“It was a strange cycle. I would work hard all year, then go broke every December period. So, my wife and I decided to venture into something that people spent money on around Christmas,” he said.

Thus, began a successful turkey farm business, until he realized that the reverse was happening whereby, he’d make a killing (pun intended) during the December period and after the season, there wouldn’t be much demand for turkeys.

So, in January 2019, LaVie Chicken Solutions was born. It was a profitable business from the beginning, but success didn’t come without loss. First, a flood wiped out over half of his chicks.

“Secondly, I made a huge investment in a deep freezer without learning how to load chickens properly to avoid spoiling,” according to Igudia. “This lack of knowledge cost me a lot of decayed chickens in the freezer.”

He later learned that when fresh chickens are stored in a deep freezer, only the products around the freezer walls freeze on time. Everything in the middle of the cold box doesn’t get to the 10 degree “stable temperature” quickly enough to avoid decay.

Igudia’s options were to invest in an industrial blasting machine—that freezes very quickly—which he couldn’t afford or rent cold room storage space.

Enter All On investee, EastWind Laboratory Limited a 4,500 cubic feet solar-powered cold room (the first of its kind in southwest Nigeria), that offers services primarily to poultry farmers in the Ile-Ife region.

“I was their first customer. We learned a lot from each other and made mistakes that led to EastWind changing some of their practices. Today, I send many customers to them,” Igudia said.

Asked to describe the impact EastWind has had on his business in one sentence, Igudia laughed and said, “That is simple. They have increased my productivity. Financially and psychologically.”

Psychologically? I ask.

“Yes. I don’t have to worry about power or if there is enough light to ensure that the chickens get to the stable 10 degrees to avoid decay. Once I drop my chickens at EastWind, I can rest,” Igudia laughed.

By the time we finally spoke again that day, Igudia was resting and had time for an interview. His farm had dressed about 250 chickens, most of which were cooling at the EastWind Laboratories. No chickens came home to roost—it was a good day at LaVie.