Poultry Raiding Dog Sparks New Family Businesses | Business
Ainsworth and Addia Brown’s journey into farming and agribusiness began with the neighbor’s raging dog.
The five weeks they spent feeding and caring for 2,000 chickens that they intended to sell to one of the largest chicken farmers on the island, came to naught in a one night when the neighbor’s dog broke into the chicken coop.
Ainsworth, who had worked as an electrical engineer for most of his career before taking a leap of faith into animal farming in 2009, woke up to the appalling sight the next morning. None of the chickens he raised as a source of income for his growing family survived the attack.
His business with the poultry producer was put on hold, as was a cash inflow he was expecting to care for the 8,700 animals he still had on the top floor of the two-tier chicken coop.
The dog’s owners provided little help and the community vendor who had promised to help provide feed for the next batch of chickens, if they got into trouble, changed his mind.
“We planned to start the business with 10,700 chickens. We had just modernized the chicken coop and the slaughterhouse and we had 2,000 chickens that had come to term. We were advised to take loans, but we said no because we had savings, so we invested all our money. But we had a big loss, somebody’s dog ran away and killed all the birds,” Ainsworth recalled in an interview with the financial gleaner.
“When we were spending the last of our money, we had a chat with the food supplier in case we had any difficulties, we would like them to advance us some food to complete the order and they said yes. But after the incident, they changed their minds and we had to watch the chickens eat each other,” he said, the memory of that terrible night still fresh, even though more than a decade passed. has elapsed.
DECISION TO MOVE
As the pressure mounted on Ainsworth over his crumbling business, he also had other worries. His wife, Addia, was pregnant with their first boy, Ainsworth Jr.
She too was tired of the ups and downs they faced, and hoping to find the comfort and inspiration they needed to start their new chapter, the couple moved to higher ground in St Mary’s, in a place called Three Hills.
There, Ainsworth would put to use the farming skills his father had instilled in him from an early age and Addia would also discover his passion for agribusiness.
“It was a stressful time for us. We lost $13 million because of this incident, but looking back, it was a blessing for us as well,” said Ainsworth, now CEO of AA Farms.
St Mary’s parish is widely known for the production of bananas, sugar cane, citrus fruits, cocoa and chilli. Within months, Ainsworth had found therapy cultivating the 10-acre land they had leased from the government. But he was no stranger to wielding a machete and tilling the soil. At a tender age, Ainsworth was taught sustainable farming techniques by his father and grandfather, farming practices that are used to guide his operations today, he said.
“When I was in high school, I was always interested in medicine, so I studied science as well as electricity. My career options were to become a doctor or an electrical engineer, and for 17 years I worked with the Sampol engineering company in Jamaica and overseas.
“But I have always loved agriculture, my father and grandfather were herbalists so I started learning about plants, the benefits, how to use them, prepare them and store them from an early age,” he says, knowledge he shares with his three children. Rebecca, Ainsworth Jr and Anthonyo Brown.
Ainsworth’s journey into commercial farming began with lemongrass, a cash crop in high demand, especially in the tea-making industry, that took little time to mature. Over time, Ainsworth added thyme, bananas, plantains, jackfruit, sugarcane, coconut, tomatoes, onions, among other crops, to market them on a commercial scale. .
In February 2020, he registered the business, AA Farms, and gradually increased volume production through contract farming agreements with neighboring farmers.
As her husband increased the variety of crops on AA farms and made new arrangements, Addia pondered how she could incorporate herbs into her cosmetology business. Her work as a hair, nail and skincare specialist has allowed her to flirt with natural ingredients. So when she was given the opportunity to formulate her own hair growth and rejuvenation products, she spared no effort to get to work.
Certainly there were successes and failures, but as new raw materials became available and she developed a deeper understanding of the production processes with the help of a local and international agricultural consultant, product quality has improved.
Over time, Addia’s Essential Oil became a brand of AA Farms under which the couple produces essential, cold-pressed and therapeutic oils. The oils range from rosemary, coconut, lemongrass, peppermint, moringa, and avocado oils, to name a few. After perfecting its oils, Addia branched out into the production of herbal and fruit-based moringa and avocado soap bars and hydrosols.
The demand for essential oils in Jamaica is north of US$40 million per year. At least 90% of the essential oils consumed in Jamaica are imported, but state-owned Jamaica Business Development Corporation, JBDC, is pumping $50 million into building the essential oils unit at JBDC’s Incubator Resource Center in Kingston . The agency plans to reach the goal of US$1 million by the fourth year of the program, to partially block imports to the island.
Addia’s oils are packaged in 15ml, 30ml, 2oz, 8oz and 16oz bottles that are retailed in pharmacies and salons nationwide.
“The oil line keeps growing. Recently, we launched the hair-key scalp solution and are reformulating our ginger and chili oil. We are working with an international company to perfect the product,” said Addia, Sales and Marketing Manager at AA Farms.
Contractors also supply bulk to local manufacturers like Morgan’s Creek.
“We started making the oils from the herbs and but with Ainsworth’s background in electrical engineering, I wanted to learn how to do distillation. He researched and created a distilling machine for the company,” she said.
The duo dream of entering international markets, with eyes on diaspora markets like the US, Canada and the UK. But that requires investment in a larger treatment facility, which would be five times the size of the treatment facility the couple currently use.
Ainsworth set a budget of US$1.3 million and a three-year deadline to complete the processing facility, pending construction approvals. The plan is to quadruple the company’s current production figures initially, which would be enough, he says, to comfortably supply local Addia Essential Oil customers and to dip its toes into the international market.
The building, which will be used for processing, packaging and storage, will cover 8,000 square feet.
“Our demand is strong and growing. We need to upgrade our equipment to produce 10 times more than we currently produce. It is moving forward but slowly as we seek funding, possible to partner with an investor,” Ainsworth said.
But expanding the essential oil business isn’t the only business the couple are pursuing. Ainsworth and Addia also dream of erecting a health and wellness center, a project they plan to spend an additional US$700,000 on.
Ainsworth wants the new treatment facility to be operational in five years, along with the health and wellness centre. The first phase will see the construction of four bedrooms, each equipped to accommodate one or two visiting parents. In the second phase, AA Farms will add six more bedrooms.
The company will promote its oils and herbal medicine as part of the service offerings of the health and wellness center which caters to both local and international clients.
“It’s about treating sick people and getting therapy no matter what situation they’re facing,” Ainsworth said.