A rising leader with a social mission in the feed industry
BRAC’s original vision for BRAC Feed Mills was to supply the small poultry farmers who reared between 50-100 chickens with quality feed at affordable prices. Although other types of poultry feed existed in Bangladesh at the time the enterprise came into being, many farmers could not access nutritious feed because of high prices. Now that BRAC Feed Mills has reached its goal of filling this gap in the market, the enterprise hopes to continue expanding to other areas, including serving livestock farmers all over Bangladesh.
The early days
While BRAC’s poultry rearing development programme enabled the rural poor to become chicken farmers, it did not guarantee success for them, as chicken farmers were not always able to raise healthy chickens. Often, the farmers could not provide proper nutrition for the chickens because of a shortage of high quality chicken feed in Bangladesh. A group of BRAC staff decided to fill this market gap by creating BRAC Feed Mills, employing 60 employees.
Continuous innovation to fuel growth of the livestock industry and profit for the poor
Initially, BRAC Feed Mills operated like an extension project. It opened its first mash feed factory in the Rajshahi division of Bangladesh in 1996, and distributed 50-100 chicks to rural families around Bangladesh, trained the families on how to rear chickens for-profit, and supplied its own mash feed to the families. After its initial success and increasing demand, BRAC Feed Mills opened a second mash feed factory in Manikanj district of Bangladesh in 1997. The mash feed targets commercial poultry farmers and breeders who keep chickens for longer periods of time, usually between 80-90 weeks.
To serve other livestock farmers, BRAC Feed Mills opened a third factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh, which produces pellet feed. The pellet feed serves chicken, fish and cattle farmers. Because it is a much more nutritious form of feed compared to mash feed, broiler rearing farms that only rear chicks for 30-35 days use pellet feed, as the growth components in the pellet feed help grow chicks to a large size, ideal for market sales.
BRAC Feed Mills sells its mash feed for BDT 34-35 (approximately USD 0.42) per kilogramme, and its pellet feed for BDT 38 (USD 0.46) per kilogramme. On average, these prices are about BDT 1-1.25 less per kilogramme than its competitors, allowing farmers to benefit from both the lower cost of feed and the ability to rear healthier livestock.
Bottom-up approach to meeting market demand
To distribute feed, BRAC Feed Mills works with independent dealers in counties across Bangladesh. The sales team coordinates with the dealers, and farmers receives feed from the dealers. To ensure that BRAC Feed Mills fullfill its mission of supplying rural farmers with nutritious feed for affordable prices, BRAC communicates closely with those farmers receiving BRAC feed. Through this, farmers have suggested ways for BRAC Feed Mills to improve its products. For example, BRAC Feed Mills has changed the ratio of maize and soybeans in its feed, taking feedback account the local farmers. The introduction of pellets was also a response to market demand. BRAC Feed Mills plans to address the fish farmers' demand for floating fish feed by 2014.