For cherished Sri Lankan chicken producer Crysbro, the concept of doing good business no longer solely revolves around delivering a product which can be used as a vehicle to drive profit. After 47 years, the company, which is locally renowned for the high quality of its chicken, has now risen to a position where it sees itself as having a larger economic and social role to play. This deeper responsibility has led it to extend its ethos well beyond business as usual to include the welfare of the numerous farming communities that form an integral support structure for the entire poultry industry.
A vital aspect of its efforts within this sphere includes its close cooperation with chicken farmers. These farmers, through outgrower schemes, are contracted to raise chickens for Crysbro. The way this partnership works is Crysbro provides these farmers with the necessary chickens, veterinary support, feed and technical assistance while the outgrowers oversee the daily care of the chickens.
This mutually beneficial relationship has empowered several farming families from across the country by offering them a steady and viable source of income while allowing their farms to continue functioning independently. Crysbro’s involvement with these contract growers also significantly mitigates the financial risk these farmers would typically shoulder if they raised chickens without the company’s assistance.
“The vast majority of our outgrowers have been with us for well over 10 years. This has allowed us to form strong links with neighbouring farming communities across the country and helped them realise their full business potential while reducing their financial risk,” saidS. K. Abeysinghe, Senior Manager (Uva & East regions), Crysbro.
“A lot of these businesses are also headed by women, some of whom are the sole breadwinners of their families. This helps establish the message of gender equality in what are very conservative communities while guaranteeing their financial independence.”
This is especially true of Mrs. Chandra Kumuduni, who is a mother of two from a village in Makulugolla in Girandurukotte which shelters 272 families. Every morning after getting her kids ready for the day, Chandra Kumuduni goes to work raising the 2,372 chickens under her watch.
“Before I began raising chickens I worked at a garment factory. When it went out of business, I was desperate to find a way to earn some income to support my two children since my husband had passed away in an accident. Fortunately, I found out about Crysbro and was able to get the support I needed to help look after my children and contribute to my village,” related Chandra Kumuduni.
She said that without the partnership which she and many of the residents of her village shared with Crysbro, they would be forced to make the long journey to Colombo to find work. She added that this would have interfered with her ability to properly raise her children.
She asserted that alternative forms of farming such as paddy cultivation were not entirely viable either since yields were seasonal, meaning that there was no work for a sizable portion of the year. This would have once again forced her out of her village to find work.
Mrs. H. M. Siriyawathi, who is from Navakatiyaya, Dambagolla echoed these sentiments, saying Crysbro has played a crucial role in her life. After losing her husband 18 years ago, Siriyawathi was compelled to work at a stone quarry crushing metal to make ends meet and educate her two children.
After struggling with this job for a while, Crysbro presented her with the opportunity of operating her own farm and she has not looked back ever since. Today, both her children are properly educated and employed.
“After Crysbro gave us this opportunity to run a farm, most of my problems were solved and I was able to earn a good living. The message I have to give society is to be strong and work hard just like me no matter how many problems are thrown your way,” Siriyawathi declared.
Established in 1972 with just 100 chicks and a deep desire to be a market leader in quality and innovation, Crysbro has emerged as Sri Lanka’s first and most sophisticated, fully vertically-integrated poultry producer. Its operations span grandparent and parent farms, hatcheries, broiler farms and feed mills. This thriving ‘Farm-to-Fork’ concept has formed the core of its success. In turn, it has yielded unprecedented benefit for numerous stakeholders including direct and indirect employees, outgrowers, domestic maize farmers and ultimately Sri Lankan consumers.