I chanced upon Eggcellent Eggs while I was browsing through my Instagram account one day. It was one of those ‘suggestions for you’ that popped up when I was swiping away. I’m always on the lookout for new businesses (food related ones always peak my interest of course) and I was excited to read that Eggcellent Eggs were producing organic and free-range eggs right here in Ghana. They may not be the first to do so, but they are the first business that I’ve personally come across, so I decided to reach out and find out more information.
According to The Spruce, an organic egg is one that has “come from chickens that are fed only organic feed i.e., feed that is free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives. No genetically modified foods can be used.” The chickens are not given antibiotics either, unless they have an infection and no hormones or other drugs are used. Molting (allowing older feathers to shed for new ones) is done naturally. “Molting extends the productive life of laying chickens, but it cannot be induced in chickens laying organic eggs; only natural molting is allowed to occur.” They must also be in “cage-free environments and have access to the outdoors, even if their outdoor area is just a small pen or enclosed yard area.” While admittedly these are conditions from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Eggcellent Eggs choose to follow these conditions for their egg production.
Rama Saeed and Nibrass Nour-Eljalil Hassan are co-partners of Eggcellent Eggs. Rama, having lived with animals most of her life, loves working with them and was naturally happy to take on the chicken-rearing side of the business. Nibrass’s family has a history in agriculture, and has a Bachelor of Management Information Systems from Ashesi University. She is the Managing Director of Mino Engineering Services and Trading Company Limited, and brings her business experience to the partnership.
Nibrass “worked on a project with African Youth Forum, an NGO, to rebrand agriculture and make it enticing to young graduates” however quotes her inspiration for the business was from Rama, as she has the experience with animals. Rama was inspired to start their business after visiting poultry farms and seeing them caged with only just enough room to move around.
Eggcellent eggs operates from Rama’s family home in Ewtu Senya, in the Central Region of Ghana. It’s located approximately 1.5 hours drive away from Accra. The family grows organic fruits and vegetables for their own consumption but it’s also open for Rama’s “chickitas” (as she affectionately calls them) to roam around and peck at for most of the day.
A typical day as a chickita:
4:30am – walk around pecking at insects or plants
7:00am – Rama goes in to give them fresh water and their scratch grains (corn, millet, roasted groundnuts etc.) for the morning
The chickens are only in their coop when they’re avoiding the harsh sun or when it rains and of course to lay their eggs.
2:00pm – the chickens are let into the garden again to pick their choice of greens or insects
5:00pm – Rama goes in to replace any empty drinkers and give them their evening scratch grains
6:00pm – bedtime for the chickitas
My family and I were lucky to be able to visit Rama and the chickitas at their home and we were welcomed with open arms. When we arrived, it was around 4pm and the chickitas were roaming around the garden freely and enjoying their organic greens selection. We toured the garden and I had the opportunity to chat with Rama about her business.
When they started in October 2016, they began with 250 chicks however they experienced significant losses and currently have 180 chickens. “Some of the chicks did not live long enough to grow feathers (the molting process as mentioned earlier), some could not withstand the weather conditions when the rainy season rolled around and a few were stolen by my dog, Peaches.” Rama is confident and explains that since this is their first attempt, they have learned enough to make changes for the next batch of chicks in the near future. Planning for this is already underway.
I ordered a crate of Eggcellent Eggs before our visit and they are the most golden yolked eggs I have ever seen and tasted in Ghana. Period. The colour is a deep yellow-orange, similar to turmeric powder. I remember a friend once told me she fed her chickens turmeric to help increase the colour of their yolks. Eggcellent Eggs choose to keep their eggs natural and Rama explained that it is the greens they eat that give their eggs that healthy glow!
They not only look great, but taste amazing. I’ve had them boiled, in an omelette, made pancakes, noodles and baked with them and they have elevated the taste of everything I’ve made. I’ve tasted eggs in Ghana that have a ‘fishy’ aftertaste, and this is due to the chickens being fed fish meal. So not only do Eggcellent Eggs not have an aftertaste, but they just taste healthier!
According to Livestrong.com, there are significant health benefits of eating organic eggs. The article mentions that “eggs from chickens that are free-range and eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty-acids — from sources such as grasses and weeds — lay eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than chickens that are only grain-fed.” The eggs from free-ranging chickens can not only contain more omega-3 fatty acids, but less cholesterol and less saturated fat than conventional eggs. The vitamin contents of organic eggs have also proven to contain more Vitamin A, beta-carotene and Vitamin E than conventional eggs.
As with all things organic, it comes with a price tag. A crate of eggs (30 eggs in total) is 30 Cedis for small and 50 Cedis for large. Small eggs are between 35-40 grams each and large eggs are between 65 to 70 grams each. They believe their pricing is fair considering the difficulty in raising organic, free-range chickens in Ghana. Rama assures that “my hens don’t eat any grains that have been sprayed by any kind of chemicals to ensure their health, but it’s really difficult to find organic grains in the quantity I need. Everything they eat needs to be 100% natural and chemical free.” They are passionate on maintaining the quality of their eggs and that the pricing is fair.
Eggcellent Eggs currently delivers every Thursday to Accra and you can contact them on Instagram or on WhatsApp (0244 099 322) to find out more information and place an order. You won’t regret it!
***April 2018 edit***
Sadly, Eggcellent Eggs ceased operations earlier this year and hope to be back in action sooner than later. I’ll keep readers posted as and when they do!