A new chicken farm is on the horizon.
Nestled on over 50 acres of land in the rural community of Mt. Rose, St. Patrick, the construction of Excellent Farms Ltd is nearing completion, with the projected opening date set for early February.
According to Managing Director of Excellent Farms Ltd., Phillip Telesford, “it all started with a dream in January 2011.”
“And I remember very clearly during the New Year’s service the pastor preached from Habakkuk Chapter 2 and he said, ‘write the vision make it plain upon tables and he that readeth must run with it for the vision is there for an appointed time’ and at the time I was thinking of getting into some kind of business but I really wasn’t sure about what I should get into and that night I actually had a dream about the name of the company and the vision itself and I got up and I wrote it down, I prayed and I went back to bed and having written it down all I did was continue to develop,” Telesford told reporters in an interview after formally introducing the business to potential clients during a cocktail reception at 61 West, the newly open restaurant and bar along the Grand Anse Beach.
Telesford has joined forces with local attorney-at-law, Dickon Mitchell, businessman Derek Steele, father of government minister Nicholas Steele and the relatively unknown Osbert Hood.
In pursuit of his dream, Telesford said that extensive research about the poultry business was conducted throughout the Caribbean and internationally between 2011 and 2013.
“I really didn’t know about all of this until the research was done and having met with a number of consultants, the environmentalist and all the various people and they came on board they were able to show me certain things and that is what caused me to develop at this level,” he explained.
The company will be operated under the tag line “My safe and healthy choice,” with mission to become the largest producer of poultry products on the island.
According to Telesford, the aim is to “adopt best international standards, utilising the finest equipment in a highly sanitised environment” with “automated feed, water and ventilation systems, a semi-automated abattoir and pre-fabricated steel frame.”
The lead investor on the project was identified as Osbert Hood, who along with Attorney-at-Law Dickon Mitchell and longstanding automotive dealer Derek Steele have together already pumped over “$4 m” to make “Excellent Farms Ltd., a reality.
Telesford disclosed that “by the time the project is completed at the end of February as projected, we would have invested over $7m.
“This is the kind of commitment, dedication and passion that we have invested in this project to make it a reality…,” he said.
He added that the “silent” stakeholders worked behind the scenes to make the project happen and thanked them for all that they have done.
“This kind of investment simply means that we cannot take things for granted…and we are prepared to work at the highest level to ensure the success of this farm. The commitment that these gentlemen have made, made it possible so that we did not have to take a loan from any financial institution. This $7 m came from the life savings of these gentlemen,” Telesford said.
He also singled out Attorney-at-Law Michelle Steele, the wife of Government Minister, Nicholas Steele, who he said “has done so much at no cost.”
“She has taught us so much. I learned so much from her. She is prompt, efficient and she has done very, very good for us in making the transitions happen with excellent farms,” Telesford told the gathering.
Agriculture Minister Yoland Bain-Horsford, who also attended the introduction cocktail, commended the farm owners and investors on the bold step toward the initiative describing it as a “great” move.
“I am very proud of this initiative. I think it is great and hearing this evening that these monies wasn’t a loan at all (but) a serious commitment…the persons who invested must be commended,” said Bain-Horsford.
“I think it’s a great investment (and) it is also a risk because you do not know how things would turn out but I think that the commitment and the support and we too at the ministry would give that kind of support to the investors…and I wish you all the best,” she added.
The female government minister expressed optimism that the “magnitude of this investment would impact the economy as we endeavour to decrease our high import bill”.
She urged Excellent Farms Ltd to employ all the necessary environmental safeguards to promote the use of clean energy and to support government’s thrust in employing climate smart practices.
“As the company endeavours to protect its investment, it is important that it plays its part in strengthening the Grenada Association of Poultry Producers…”, she said.
“The development of the poultry sub-sector is critical if the ministry is to be true to its mandate of national food and nutrition security…therefore it is prudent for us to work towards the reduction of imported poultry and poultry products,” she added.
Vice President and Strategic Manager of the Grenada Poultry Association (GPA), Joshua Lewis, who was part of the activity, said, the initiative being undertaken “presents a tremendous opportunity for an import substitution” in light of the fact that approximately “16 million pounds of chicken (are) consumed (on the island) every year.”
Lewis noted that “with the introduction of the government poultry policy in 2017, poultry production jumped by 15% in the space of a year and a half.”
“So, we know what can be done when we have our goals and we make sure that our regulations and our policies support those goals (and) we have a tremendous opportunity before us with the Excellent Farm investment.
“We have an opportunity to create thousands of jobs for our young people (and) for foreign reserve savings and so many more.
Excellent Farms Ltd., is located on the L’Etage Estate and once completed will have the capacity to house 50, 000 birds.
Telesford said that over 40 persons have already found employment with the business.