Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
BULAWAYO-BASED women and girl child empowering non-governmental organisation, Upfumi Kumadzimai-Inotho Kubomama is working on embarking on an extensive free range chicken breeding project as it moves to tap into the lucrative Asian market.
Upfumi Kumadzimai-Inotho Kubomama programmes co-ordinator Mrs Nonceba Mwedzi-Agwaniru said the organisation is in the process of engaging farmers in Bulawayo and surrounding areas to intensify rearing of free range chickens.
“We have made a considerable headway in identifying markets in Dubai for road runner chickens and the market is quite huge with some wholesalers having placed pre-orders of 3 x 40 feet containers of frozen chicken. Our main hindrance is insufficient stocks and as such we are encouraging farmers to form associations to enable us to meet the required stocks to begin exports,” she said.
Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru said as part of efforts to enhance its poultry project the organisation had purchased an egg incubator with a capacity to hatch 2 000 eggs, which has since been set up in Figtree.
“We had started supplying chicks to our members interested in poultry production and individual farmers but we were forced to stop doing so because due to limited resources we couldn’t raise enough egg laying stock for the project to be productive.
“We also lost a number of chicks due to the cold spell as a result of poor housing. We are, however, optimistic that with the synergies we have created with farmers in Figtree, we are likely to achieve our target of exporting to Dubai and even explore other lucrative export markets,” she said.
Free range chickens popularly known as road runners or inkukhu makhaya are popular among most meat consumers largely due to their organic nature.
Broilers are best raised in confined conditions where diseases can be managed through sterilisation, but the indigenous birds can be raised free range as they are less susceptible to the harsh weather and environmental conditions.
This often forces farmers in broiler rearing to purchase expensive feeds rather than relying on nature’s abundant feeds, like worms and insects. Although the commercial chicken grows faster and can mature within six weeks, there is a high initial start-up cost and a greater risk.
The organisation is working on partnering Deena Organic Farm in the United Arad Emirates.
Deena Organic Farm uses sustainable methods to grow fresh produce each season.
“Deena Farm is in the UAE and its one of the leading producers and suppliers of farm fresh organic produce. We are looking forward to partner it through offering a diverse product range from southern Africa. To this end, we intend to organise our members and interested farmers to embark on oyster and button mushroom product has been put in place. The other initiative is also embarking on honey production as well as horticulture and floriculture projects with all the produce being shipped to Deena Farm,” said Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru.
The organisation is also in the process of approaching relevant departments and Government ministries to facilitate its exports.