Agriculture, both crop and animal-rearing, has long been done with primitive methods – thereby affecting productivity and making it unattractive to the modern youth. But someone – Wisdom Mahami – is changing the narrative. This week’s Inspiring Start-ups shares the story of Crosslinksfarms, an agri-tech start-up making laudable progress by introducing technological skills to animal farming in the northern part of the country. Enjoy reading!
Wisdom Mahami from Nalerigu in the North East Region is the founder of Crosslinksfarms, the integrated livestock farm. He is a product of Navrongo Senior High School where he studied General Science, and Academic City College where he had his first degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
According to Wisdom, the idea behind Crosslinksfarms started as a project from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Educational Project (STEMEP) Club back at Academic City, where they built egg-incubators from damaged refrigerators and other locally sourced materials under the guidance of lecturers, including Dr. Raymond Dumeh and Mr. Julian Bennet.
Wisdom together with several other STEMEP club members built the project initial version, which hatched chicks using the incubator.
Though others left the project for other things, Wisdom even after school took up the challenge and built an advanced version of the incubator that could house about 352 eggs, with funding and support from Dr. Mcbagonluri Fred. Since then, he has secured land in the Northern Region for the farm and assisted other farmers to increase productivity with the technology while employing other young folk.
“The business started in April 2019, and given the fact that I could build incubators to hatch eggs, I asked myself, why not start a poultry farm?”
How the idea was kept going
“As a first step, we decided to build up the industry by leveraging existing infrastructure, but also making sure to contribute our quota to said infrastructure. In that regard, we procured a 10-acre farm in Nalerigu to set up our farm facility, which currently has divisions for poultry, goats and sheep, and cattle. This farm currently has over 500 poultry birds (guinea-fowl and chickens), supplied from our hatchery with a 1,000-egg capacity incubator.
“This farm facility will be the primary place where we conduct research and develop alternative feed sources and best practices to increase the productivity of livestock and poultry birds. Ultimately, we will set up a meat-processing facility that will be supplied by farmers in our network – who will use our technology and technical expertise to produce quality, healthy meat products to feed the country,” he told Inspiring Start-ups.
Crosslinksfarms provides services which include: building and selling intelligent low-cost but highly efficient incubators based on customer requirements; construction of automatic temperature-controlled brooding systems; and providing technical guidance to local farms.
It is located in the Northern Region of Ghana and is mainly into guinea-fowl, local Ghana chicken, sheep and goat production.
“Our venture integrates all the aspects of production – from producing day-old chicks from our hatchery to producing cost-effective alternative poultry feed, and then technical support for farmers,” he said.
It also provides hatchery services to local farmers and sells fertile guinea-fowl eggs, day-old guinea-keets and mature birds. It constructs low-cost fodder grow systems.
How education has helped
According to Wisdom, the knowledge and skills acquired from his Electrical & Electronics Engineering courses enabled him to build the first incubator and other devices subsequently emerged from the same principle.
Crosslinksfarms’ plan for the future is to build a manufacturing centre for incubators and other industrial automation that will be required for their work and other farmers’ in order to improve agriculture in the country.
It also intends to build a meat processing facility as well as start an ‘out-grower scheme’ that encourages farmers to increase production, which will then provide the facility with enough meat to meet demand.
“We are currently working on a new project that will see to it we design and construct an Automatic hydroponics fodder sprouting machine to produce low-cost, fresh green nutritious fodder under a controlled environment to feed livestock; including cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkey and guinea-fowl.
“Livestock is critical to the survival of people all around the world. In addition to providing income for about 500 million smallholder farmers in poor countries, the sector employs over 1.3 billion people each year. Livestock are valuable assets for the rural poor in developing countries, but they face a serious problem in the form of limited seasonal feed supply. So, we believe this can help,” he disclosed.
The young entrepreneur said his hurdles include dealing with electricity fluctuations which tend to affect the hatching rate of incubators, and sometimes cause thousands of eggs to spoil.
Given where the farm is situated, he mentions, there is also difficulty in access to water. And again, the frustrations with getting permits and certificates to operate cannot be left out.
“Also, challenges for start-ups include the difficulties associated with business registration processes and certification, particularly the high fees. Another shared challenge is lack of funding to expand,” he said.
How government can support
Wisdom believes that the country’s entrepreneurship agenda requires making available soft loans for the teeming youths who believe in the vision and are making strides to champion the cause and bring about change.
He said government can also help by easing the company or business certification processes, as they are tedious and cumbersome.
While acknowledging the initiatives taken to promote made-in-Ghana products, he noted much more needs to be done; and making equipment and raw materials more accessible, as well as streamlining shipping procedures, is essential.
Advice to prospective entrepreneurs
A definite way to begin an entrepreneurial adventure, in Wisdom’s opinion, is to first identify an issue and discover/create a solution to it.
“Find a problem or a need and work out a solution to fix it. Do not go into Entrepreneurship with the ‘get-money-quick’ mindset, because your entrepreneurship is passion-driven. Be dedicated and focused, and be ready for failure; but in all things, do it until it works,” he advised.
WhatsApp number: 0547973185
Phone call: 0544995806