Ghanaian Farmer Shares Horrific Experience of Theft and Juju on His Poultry Farm

Businesses are tough to run even when everything goes as planned. Imagine that, as part of all the issues you have to deal with, employees pilfering your products is another thing you have to deal with. 

For many employers, theft from employees is a total nightmare. In this article, we explore the firsthand account of Farmer Lex, a farmer in Ghana.

Farmer Lex is a poultry farmer and shares a terrible experience.

“Let me gist you all about the headaches entrepreneurs go through. Two years ago, I employed one gentleman. This gentleman was working for someone who was then paying him 400 or 600 cedis, and I decided to double it as I poached him from his previous job due to his hard work.

The first 6 to 12 months were great; business was going well, and he was doing great. All of a sudden, things began to worsen.

Feeding birds, and they are producing 30% of the eggs. Imagine having 8000 birds, and if that is what you are getting, every farmer will tell you you are running at a loss because anything below 70% is bad business. This 30% made me seek an expert on a consultancy deal that was costing us 1500 cedis monthly in addition to the bad production, not forgetting maintenance and repair costs.

Back to the worker, he came to me with the request of leaving the farms on Saturday after work and coming to work on Sunday evening, which I granted and said to make it Monday morning before work begins.

That was the beginning of him coming to work when and how he wanted.

Now he leaves on Thursday afternoon, comes on Tuesday or Wednesday the following week, and is handed over to one worker who sees evil but keeps to himself. 

From profit margins, we quickly entered into a loss to the extent of me sending money to pay workers salaries.

Not forgetting that because he is not on the farm, the instructions from the expert were never implemented, but I was told they had been implemented without yielding any results. I had to cut off the expert, as it was a waste of money. 

Any farmer who comes and is not ready to play ball will be kicked out by them, either the person resigns or gets fired, as the person will be painted as lazy. It got so bad that even eggs couldn’t be sold as customers were not coming due to how they were treated.

Not knowing, the eggs were stolen every day, hidden, and later, in the late hours of the evening, taken and sold into private pockets.

This continued for more than 6 months until I said enough; if they can’t regenerate enough money to pay their salaries and feed the birds, I won’t bring in any external money.

I also decided to sell off the birds, as I wanted to count my losses and move on. 

While the selling of birds was going on, it was discovered that 495 spent layers were missing. I was told it’s a counting error. I decided to share the cost among all the workers, as 495 birds can’t vanish just like that. 

To be fair, I decided to take 25% of their salary until the debt is paid off 

That evening, the farm administrator said the missing birds were due to a maths error; therefore, he didn’t understand why everyone was paying for it. That evening he resigned; less than a week later, his right hand informed us of going home because his son was sick and never to return. 

Within that week, one of the workers was caught red-handed with over five crates of eggs. The incident was reported at the police station. After bail was granted, the thief came back to the farm, claiming he still wanted to work with us. E no be juju be that? 

Now back to the guy I poached; he decided to handover, and guess what? He deleted all contact information of customers from the phone, including the company’s WhatsApp account.

The laptop I gave him to use for reports, which he was using for his graphic design jobs. Today, he is distributing eggs to our customers. It got so bad that new workers claimed to see snakes in the offices and were chased by snakes.

We later discovered juju, or charm, hidden at the office. I came and threw them away, and some I burned.

In all of this, my contribution to the problem is : an absent farmer and trusting everyone 

All these things won’t be in any books for doing business in West Africa.

The closest reality to doing business in West Africa is the UT storybook. Tell me which course at Legon, GIMPA, or UCC deals with juju at work, but all the European and American universities deal with practical issues with entrepreneurship in their region.

One day, when I get the privilege to meet Despite, the first question I will ask him is: How did he deal with juju (charm) when he started his Despite Group of companies?

Currently, we are in a stable position and growing slowly.

To be continued.

#TheEggMan”

Farmer Lex’s experience is one that many entrepreneurs dread. Continually business owners have to come up with ingenious ways of dealing with theft from their businesses. 

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