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Monday, June 24, 2024

From overseas to over-easy

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Former OFW makes an impact in Sulu with egg farm

Lendl Arakama spent five years as a site mechanical engineer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Eventually, he decided not to return to his life as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and fly home to Sulu without assurance of a stable job or business idea to begin his new life.

Fortunately for him, inspiration came during a business trip from Zamboanga to Sulu, which took eight hours.

“I observed lots of eggs transported to Sulu via RORO (Roll-on/roll-off cargo ships) almost every day,” Arakama told Manila Standard Agriculture.

He asked the egg supplier in Sulu regarding the number of egg trays he supplies to the province. The answer was more than 5,000 trays weekly, but that quantity wasn’t enough to meet market demand. It was a golden opportunity for the former OFW, and it didn’t take long before he took the necessary steps to begin an egg farm.

The former mechanical engineer set up a layer poultry farm on a 30-hectare land at Barangay Bato-Bato, Sitio Talatak, Municipality of Indanan, Sulu, now known as Lendl’s Fresh Farm Egg.

Dekalb White chickens are ideal for egg farms because they are productive, docile, and adapt well to an alternative housing system

“I contacted my friend from Basilan, who also owns an egg poultry Farm with 5,000 heads. He was the one who helped all the way from start to finish, from the supplier of one-day-old chicken, vaccines, maintenance, and infrastructure,” Arakama said.

Yet, much like every effort, Arakama faced challenges when he started his egg farm. According to him, the biggest challenge of egg farming in Sulu is the distance it takes to transport day-old chickens from the primary supplier in Bulacan to Zamboanga via airplane and again to Sulu via RORO for eight hours. The mortality rates are high by the time the chickens reach the island. Still, this didn’t phase him.

Arakama raises Dekalb White chickens because they are productive, docile, and adapt to an alternative housing system. By 18 weeks, the chickens will begin laying eggs. At 24 weeks, they will reach a 94 percent egg production rate that enables the former OFW to harvest daily until culling or identifying and removing non-laying or low-producing hens from a laying flock.

“The practices we make to improve egg production and efficiency is continuous cleaning of the manure, providing vaccines and dewormer every two months, clean water, and minimizing other animals inside the farm,” he said.

Besides providing Arakama with livelihood and income, his community in Sulu benefited from the egg farm.

“The impact of my farm on the local community as they have a choice for fresh eggs. Unlike before, they don’t have a choice. Even if the eggs were damaged, old, or rotten, they still needed to buy them. Secondly, our farm sold the eggs for a cheaper and more accurate sizing than the market price,” he said.

Lendl’s Fresh Farm Egg provides more than just livelihood. It also promotes food security and sustainability in Sulu

It also provided food security to the island, especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns, when transport restrictions were prevalent. The residents felt that commodities for Sulu shouldn’t depend on other areas.

Meanwhile, Arakama uses sustainable practices on the egg farm. Some examples include utilizing solar energy as the primary electricity source, especially for the lighting system for the coops and the workers’ houses. It helps reduce carbon emissions, prevent pollution and waste, and reduce energy use.

The egg farm also recycles chicken manure into compost, which benefits plants and fruit-bearing trees.

Arakama’s journey from overseas Filipino worker to poultry entrepreneur is a testament to the power of hard work, resourcefulness, and a genuine desire to help one’s community. His egg farm is not just a source of livelihood for his family and neighbors–it is a beacon of hope, proving that determination and a little (c)luck can triumph over challenges.

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