Meet Sogodogo Sarata Berthé, poultry farmer from Bougouni, Mali
Sogodogo Sarata Berthé worked as a postal services wicket clerk up to when she retired at the age of 55. Now, the 65-year-old woman raises chickens.
Sarata lives in Bougouni, Mali. She had five children with her late husband who was a police officer.
She started this business by raising local chickens. “I had many chickens. I still remember those days when back home, my chickens used to run to me as soon as I crossed the doorway. This was really pleasant,” she says.
But every year, the number of birds varied drastically because disease would often wipe out the stock, forcing Sarata to start over again. Sarata had no information on vaccines that should be used for chickens. N’golo, the head of a farmer group, supported her through some of these challenges, including introducing roosters.
“At first, I was not interested in marketing my birds because whenever they were hit by a disease, I used to cook the remaining ones for my family,” she says.
She adds: “At this time, I had a preference for red breeding roosters, and was offered a few ones, which produced nice chicks with my hens. Visitors were impressed by my chickens and proposed to buy them.”
“At the beginning, I was not sure whether I wanted to sell them, but later, I developed a taste for money I could get easily by just selling a few chickens.”
Sarata used the money she earned to extend her henhouse.
Realizing that she was getting a lot of money, Sarata’s husband asked her to sell him chickens on credit, so that he too could take up poultry farming. In the past, they both used to quarrel over the chickens because she was not raising them in a henhouse. However, when he saw the opportunity for a new business, Sarata’s husband also wanted to become a poultry farmer.
“I told him he could not start to raise chickens by borrowing money, as this would be a bad start to business. I suggested I could sell him some birds for a good price if need be. He accepted my proposal, and this is how he became passionate about poultry farming.”
“Eventually, both of us became poultry farmers who had chickens roaming freely, and we run our businesses separately. Our house was full of chickens to the extent that when my husband’s friends were visiting, they would all shout, ‘Oh!! Sogodogo has a lot of chickens’ and my name was not mentioned in anger anymore.”
Sarata has advice for other female poultry farmers. She wants them to know that they need a small amount of capital at the beginning because henhouses must be built according to particular requirements to keep the brood healthy.
She adds that they need to be courageous. When, her first chicks got sick and started to die one after another, Sarata lost about 250 chicks.
“Discouraged, I wanted to quit, but my children encouraged me to stand fast. I ordered a new stock and things worked well. Since then, I haven’t lost as many chicks. I have even started to raise broilers now. (Broilers are a type of chicken bred particularly for meat.) My poultry business finances itself.”
She bought a delivery tricycle (a three tire motorbike equipped with a platform meant for the transport of luggage and goods) with the chicken money. Today, Sarata’s henhouse runs on a solar energy system, parts of the roof are covered and she has many other projects underway.
In Mali, information on chicken rearing and marketing is shared as part of our “Radio for farmer value chain development” project, funded by Global Affairs Canada.