Joseph Opondo: Ex-Military Now Reaping Millions In Bird Farming

By Kuria Kimani

Mr. Joseph Onyango Opondo is a former deputy Director of the National Counter Terrorism Centre and now a bird farmer whose success story in the venture is an inspiration to many Kenyans. This is the intriguing profile of Mr. Joseph Opondo as told by WoK.

Early Life and Background

Mr. Joseph Onyango Opondo hails from the Nyanza region and was born in 1960.

Education background

He is an alumnus of the University of South Africa where he pursued an undergraduate degree in Commerce and later on acquired his MBA (Masters in Business Administration) at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. His specialization was in Strategic Planning and Knowledge Management. Mr. Opondo also studied at  Sherman Kent University of Analysis, Alumni of East and Southern Management Institute.

Public Service Career

Mr. Opondo served as Kenya’s Deputy Director of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, an intensive and high-pressure role that put him at the forefront of combating terrorism and related acts in the country. 

In his tenure at the NCTC, he was able to facilitate and oversee several measures that were intended to help fight terrorism in Kenya. One notable project is the 2019 European Union disbursement of Ksh 19,000,000 to two counties in the Nyanza region meant to eliminate factors that would fuel radicalization among the locals. In a statement, he said, “NTSC envisions a future uptake of activities by the Development Authorities targeting youth and women and youth at risk of radicalization due to hopelessness.” 

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The project, carried out through The Lake Basin Development Authority, saw various small businesses and groups undergo a thorough vetting process before being awarded equipment, machinery, and income-generating resources. These included tents and chairs for hire, boda boda, and farming resources.

Other Career milestones

Mr. Joseph Opondo has worked in senior positions in the government in the line of security. This has seen him speak to high-profile leaders and security personnel on several occasions. In a past African Regional Conference, he spoke to delegates from all over the world and was quoted by Interpol stating, “the dynamic nature of the terrorist threat requires continued vigilance”. He has more than thirty years of experience in public service and is an awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW).

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On being a decorated senior lecturer

Mr. Joseph Opondo was also a senior lecturer at the Government of Kenya School of Management and a part-time moderator and panelist in Senegal’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies campus situated in the capital, Dakar.

Opondo’s Ornamental Bird Business Venture

After retiring from a successful and indubitably challenging career, he went back home to Siaya county and started a business that would soon be raking in millions. He set up an exquisite ornamental bird farm in his Tangala farm in Ugenya, Siaya County to rear his birds.

The farm hosts three peacock breeds that fetch different market prices. He said of the birds, “We have three types of tausis. We have the albino peacocks and it is the most expensive as it is Canadian. A pair is Ksh 1 million. Then we have the Australian peacocks and the normal ones which go for Ksh 250,000.” The business has been successful through efforts such as farm modifications and improvements. He says, “Peacocks are proud birds so it must go and look at itself in the mirror for it to feel happy. We have a mirror for it for happiness effect.” 

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As a result of this unique venture, Mr. Opondo says the birds have brought him peace creating a fairy tale kind of environment, and are in their way, therapeutic. He reiterated this commenting, “The birds and the atmosphere is so serene. They sing and when you look at the bird’s behavior, it hooks your mind from other preconceived ideas that you had in mind. The birds we have here have also attracted other birds like the weaver birds that keep on singing for us. Some come here and sing and leave at 0300hrs.”

Business Expansion

Working together with his wife Judith Akinyi Opondo, the couple is now venturing into farming flowers and herbs. They settled on this upon consulting and identifying a problem-solving business. They now plant garlic, mint, and coriander which are exported to countries like Germany. He says that these herbs and plants helped cure his parents’ respiratory illnesses. They now look forward to expanding into more choice herbs that will be primarily for export.