Creating a new poultry industry in the BVI to reduce the level of poultry imports – that’s the aim of the proprietors of KNK Poultry Farm, located in Josiah’s Bay on the eastern side of Tortola. Less than a year into its existence, KNK Poultry Farm is looking to foster collaboration among poultry farmers with the ultimate goal of reducing a number of poultry products that is imported into the Territory. To achieve this, KNK Poultry Farm plans to introduce contract farming.
Owners Albert and Natalie Pickering explain the concept. “Contract farming is basically – farmers entering into an agreement where one farmer commits to producing a product in a given manner and the other commits to purchasing it. Often, the buyer provides the farmer with assistance (in our case, the broilers and feed) on credit and offers a guaranteed price for the output.”
Mr. and Mrs. Pickering hope to achieve this business model with help from the Agriculture Department and the BVI Government. This dream has multiple layers – to provide a top quality product to consumers, to provide a reliable and consistent alternative to poultry imports and to create jobs which in turn will help stimulate the local economy. It may not happen tomorrow but just like her husband’s idea to produce poultry was first hatched 17 years ago, Mrs. Pickering is confident that the dream will become reality.
“I remember vividly, 17 years ago when I met my husband, he along with one of his childhood friends wanted to build a farm to sell poultry. Unfortunately, the idea did not go as planned, so my husband forgot about it until couple years ago when he came back to me with the same idea to operate a poultry farm and processing plant. This time around, he did his research night after night then set his plan into motion. Today we are the proud owners of KNK Poultry Farm. For us, it’s not just a business venture but a tangible way of contributing to the health and well-being of BVI residents.”
Commendable dreams aside, the poultry farm set up less than a year ago, boasts top quality products. In an era where persons are increasingly interested in organic products, KNK Poultry Farm provides just that. “Our product is all-natural,” Mr. Pickeing said. “We get the day-old chicken and nourish them with all natural feed with no antibiotics. Customers are constantly commenting on the texture of the chicken, the freshness, taste and of course, the affordability.”
KNK Poultry prides itself on providing a fresh, healthy product. “When people purchase poultry produced overseas, it is difficult to determine how long that product was produced before being shipped to the BVI. At KNK Poultry, we produce poultry almost daily, therefore our supply is always fresh. For the health conscious, being fresh and all natural also means being healthy. Just as a fisherman would provide the day’s catch, KNK Poultry provides the day’s slaughter, from our farm to your family, no freezing for lengthy periods.”
Even as the owner’s dream of future collaboration with other poultry farmers, they are keen to maintain quality products on the BVI market. KNK Poultry is committed to providing top quality products and they do so by keeping up with international standards and best practices.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Pickering traveled to Atlanta where she joined hundreds of other poultry farmers and others involved in the lucrative industry, for the annual International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE).
“The IPPE event brings together poultry producers, suppliers and others for an event-filled three days of interaction, educational sessions, and negotiations between potential buyers and sellers. It was an interesting and enlightening experience to interact with persons engaged in the poultry business.”
Not only was the expo an informative experience, Mrs. Pickerong also had the opportunity to speak to suppliers about strategies to make their product and service of superior quality. “I spoke to suppliers about options for packaging material that balances the need for excellent presentation with environmental friendliness, organic feed, hygiene/cleaning products and other supplies that we would need as we focus on improving the products and services we offer at KNK Poultry.”
The excitement about the future is palpable and Mr. Pickering chimed in, “We have had a resounding response to our poultry products and we are keen to extend the range of products provided for customers. Therefore, pending further research in terms of equipment, we will be introducing chicken burgers, ground chicken and anything else you can think about that can be produced using poultry meat. KNK Poultry Farm wants to offer as wide a range of products as possible to give our customers an alternative to imported chicken.”
KNK Poultry is committed to maintaining a satisfied customer base. “To successfully build our customer base, we must keep our current customers satisfied. They, in turn, will help us market our products by convincing others to purchase. I recall seeing a sign at a business establishment which basically read, if you have a problem with our product tell management but if you don’t then tell others. Customers can make or break your business so we aim to always ensure that the product is excellent and the customer service is world-class through constant training of our staff.”
How do they maintain this group of satisfied customers and what are the secrets to the success of business venture? Mr. Pickering explained – “Owning and operating a small business requires one to be dynamic. We accept that working hours do not exist; we may not be on the farm all day every day but we are always thinking of ways to expand. We listen to the needs of the community by accepting customer feedback, both positive and negative. We engage in ongoing research to improve our products and stimulate innovative ideas. We are constantly aiming towards, invested in qualified employees who will be able to provide impeccable service. And finally, as Mrs. Pickering mentioned, we keep abreast of the latest technologies, techniques, and products for our business.”
Maintaining a successful business and fostering collaboration with other poultry farmers are not the only factors occupying the Pickering’s attention. They also want to see a greater emphasis on agriculture in the education system so the children in the BVI become more vested in producing what they eat and ultimately reducing the overall level of importation in the BVI.
KNK Poultry Farm currently employs 10 persons. The farm provides a variety of chicken products, both whole, and parts. The plant is capable of producing 350 chickens every hour for both domestic and commercial customers in the BVI.