The sound of roaring machines welcomes you to Mr Kithinji Ruku’s home at Katheri Village on the outskirts of Meru Town.
It is on this half acre farm known as Field Marshall Ruku where he has set up a small animal feeds factory. But the exciting part of his story is that he built most of the components of the factory himself at home.
Having dealt with machines for many years, he was convinced he was able to build the devices himself instead of buying them. Putting together the whole outfit took him a solid seven years.
“I have been dealing with machines after studying mechanical engineering course in the early 1970s,” says Mr Ruku, who is a former National Youth Service (NYS) technical instructor.
His journey started in 1994, when he opted to take early retirement to venture into saw milling and timber business. However, when his fortunes in the trade were beginning to look promising a major setback struck; the government banned logging in State forests in 1999.
His business came to a sudden halt.
The entrepreneur says he had to find a source of income as he had a family to feed. “I could not sit idle because I had a family to feed,” says the father of five who then embarked on maize farming.
In 2005, he decided to venture into production of animal feeds. He visited a feeds factory at Industrial Area in Nairobi to familiarise himself with components of a feeds plant.
RAISING THE CAPITAL
In 2007, he started setting up the small factory. To raise the capital, Mr Ruku sold his truck and tractor. He then bought materials to make a mixing machine which cost him about Sh90,000.
“The mixer plays a vital role in the production process because if feeds are not mixed well, the ingredients and nutrients will not be properly distributed,” he explains.
In 2009, he constructed a hammer mill, which crushes materials into smaller pieces. He saved a cool Sh80,000 by making the machine himself. A commercial hammer mill is worth Sh100,000 while he spent Sh20,000 to make the device.
By 2014, the innovator had made a posho mill, maize hauler and a maize crushing machine which are all electric-powered. He then assembled all the components and a factory for making animal feeds was born.
“The only machine I bought is a rolling mill which is slightly complicated to assemble,” he says.
In a month, he makes about 100 bags of 70kg each which is sold for Sh2,000. After deductions for paying salaries, electric bills and maintenance costs, the business earns him between Sh100,000 and Sh150,000 in a good month.
“I sell my feeds to Katheri and Kithirune Dairy farms as well as individual farmers,” he said.